Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) isn’t slowing down one bit as the world's leading mixed martial arts (MMA) organization is right back at it tonight (Sat., Aug. 22, 2020) with UFC on ESPN 15, which goes down from inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the main event of the evening, Frankie Edgar will make his Bantamweight debut against Pedro Munhoz. In the co-headlining act, Ovince Saint Preux takes on Alonzo Menifield in Light Heavyweight action.
It took long enough, but Frankie Edgar is finally going to be making his much-anticipated Bantamweight debut. The former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight champion of the world was booked against Cory Sandhagen previously before he was yanked from the bout to face Chan Sung Jung at Featherweight last December. After getting knocked out, he was then pegged to face Munhoz at UFC 251 last month but the bout was moved three times since — to UFC Fight Island 1, then to UFC 252 and now to UFC on ESPN 15. Normally that wouldn’t be that big of a deal for most, but keep in mind that “The Answer” is making the move to 135 pounds for the first time. The constant rescheduling definitely took some wind out of him since he was trying his hardest to maintain a manageable weight in order to go through a successful cut. Still, Edgar is as seasoned as they come so little adjustments here and there and he will be good to go come fight night.
His first fight in the new weight class, however, isn’t going to be an easy one since Munhoz will have a distinct power advantage over him. That has always been the story of Edgar’s combat life, but Munhoz can really crack...hard. All you have to do is look at his dominant win over Cody Garbrandt (see it here). But Frankie won’t be standing in the pocket exchanging blows like “No Love,” Munhoz is going to have to work overtime to get his shots in since “The Answer” loves to stick and move, get in and out as quickly as possible. And he’ll also have a speed advantage, so Munhoz is going to have to be on point with his selection of shots. Frankie is coming off two straight defeats so I don’t want to hear any talk of a title shot with a win. He needs to get this one — and maybe two more — before he can try to become the first man or woman to fight for three separate division titles inside the Octagon. Munhoz, meanwhile, is trying to prevent falling further behind after losing to Aljamain Sterling in his previous bout. If I’m putting money on this fight (get the odds here), I’m going to have to go with Munhoz and I definitely can see the Brazilian bomber handing Frankie his third knockout loss.
The rest of the card is underwhelming. That being said, fight cancellations — which we will talk about in the next section — definitely took the event’s anticipation level down a few notches.
Original Card vs Actual Card:
Though it was never really made official, Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington were rumored to be headlining this event but was ultimately shelved for a later date. Shamil Gamzatov was set to face Ovince Saint Preux in Light Heavyweight action but pulled out for undisclosed reasons and replaced by Alonzo Menified. Also, Michelle Waterson and Angela Hill were set to throw down at this event but the fight was moved a few weeks later after “Karate Hottie” had to withdraw for personal reasons.
But the big fight that we will no longer be getting is a tussle between Yoel Romero and Uriah Hall, which was set to serve as co-headliner. “Soldier of God” was forced to withdraw for undisclosed reasons which gave Hall the opportunity to finally face off against Anderson Silva on October 31, 2020.
Takashi Sato was forced out of the event after weigh-ins since Nevada State Athletic Officials (NSAC) ruled him physically unfit to compete against Daniel Rodriguez. UFC newbie Calen Born missed the weigh-ins for “personal reasons” and was ultimately yanked from his fight against Dwight Grant. But as luck would have it, Rodriguez and Grant both compete at 170 pounds so the promotion simply booked them to fight one another.
Jared Gordon was originally the man who was to face the aforementioned Dwight Grant before an injury forced him out off the card. Also, while not an injury, Mark Streigl tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced out of his fight against Timur Valiev. Trevin Jones stepped in on just two days notice to fill the void.
Jordan Wright will bring his undefeated (10-0) mark to the Octagon for the first time to take on Ike Villanueva. Wright took the fight on less than a week’s notice and he will be thrown in there against a man who throws caution to the wind. While Wright does have an undefeated record he wasn’t exactly fighting the cream of the crop.
Matthew Semelsberger will look to pump some new blood into the Welterweight division as he takes on fellow newcomer, Carlton Minus. Matthew is on a three fight win streak and while he has shown signs of being scrappy, he isn’t exactly a wunderkind in a specific area. Minus, on the other hand, has shown he can take on and defeat UFC-caliber opponents. He has a win over Justin Bucholz, and a loss to Rick Story under the Professional Fighters League (PFL) banner. While Minus may not be the most elite wrestler, he has enough striking skills to give people problems.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
The underbelly of the event will feature plenty of new (and some old) faces. Spearheading the “Prelims” is a women’s Strawweight bout between Amanda Lemos and Mizuki Inoue. Mizuki will be fighting inside the Octagon for just the second time after making a splash in her debut a year ago at UFC Fight Night 157. She is 6-1 over her last seven fights, so she wants to keep her roll going against Lemos, who is 1-1 so far inside the Octagon.
After making Max Rohskopf quit on the stool this past June, Austin Hubbard is back in search of his second straight win. He will be facing Joe Selecki — a product of the “Contender Series” — who is on a four-fight win streak including a successful UFC debut against Matt Wiman last December.
Ike Villanueva’s UFC debut was a disastrous one after he was knocked out by Chase Sherman last May. He will look to turn it around when he takes on undefeated newcomer Jordan Wright, winner of 10 straight fights.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Frankie Edgar needs a win in the worst way. After losing two straight, there really is nowhere else to go for “The Answer” having already competed in the 155 and 145 pound divisions. That’s not to say he can’t go back up, but he can’t drop down to 125 pounds for a fresh start...or can he? I think that will be too tough of a cut for the former Lightweight champion, so if he wants to insert himself as a legit player at 135 pounds he will have to get a win over Munhoz to prove it. Three losses in a row would normally put you on the list to get cut — especially these days — but Edgar won’t have to worry about that since he still has name value thanks to his years of memorable service for UFC. He still needs a win to avoid the dreaded “gatekeeper” label and perhaps a reduction in salary moving forward.
Interest Level: 5/10
This card went from a solid 7.5 to a five real quick after all the bout cancellations. There wasn’t much the promotion could do to build it back up given the short nature of the changes, so we have to make due with what he have. Edgar vs Munhoz will be interesting for many reasons: Does Frankie still have it? Is Bantamweight where he should have been this whole time? Can Munhoz earn his first ever UFC title shot?
Also, the revamped co-main event will see former title contender, Ovince Saint Preux, drop back down to Light Heavyweight after a one-fight experiment at Heavyweight to face off against Alonzo Menifield. Indeed, “OSP” came up short against Ben Rothwell a few months ago by losing a razor-thin split decision. Prior to that, Saint Preux had gone just 2-3 over his last five fights at 205 pounds. As for Menifield, he suffered the first loss of his career against Devin Clark at UFC 250.
Marcin Prachnio will look to end his two-fight skid and hold on to his UFC job when he faces Mike Rodriguez, who was knocked out by Da Un Jung last December. In women’s Flyweight action, Shana Dobson is in need of a win after losing three straight, bringing her UFC record to just 1-3 since 2017. She will be taking on Mariya Agapova, who has won three in a row. Odd matchmaking to say the least since Agapova deserves someone with a comparable run.
Enjoy the fights!
Full Fight Card:
UFC on ESPN 15 Main Event on ESPN/ESPN+:
135 lbs.: Pedro Munhoz vs. Frankie Edgar
UFC on ESPN 15 Main Card on ESPN/ESPN+ (8:30 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Ovince Saint Preux vs. Alonzo Menifield
205 lbs.: Marcin Prachnio vs. Mike Rodriguez
125 lbs.: Mariya Agapova vs. Shana Dobson
170 lbs.: Daniel Rodriguez vs. Dwight Grant
UFC on ESPN 15 Prelims Card on ESPN+ (6 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Mizuki Inoue vs. Amanda Lemos
155 lbs.: Austin Hubbard vs. Joe Solecki
205 lbs.: Ike Villanueva vs. Jordan Wright
170 lbs.: Carlton Minus vs. Matthew Semelsberger
140 lbs.: Timur Valiev vs. Trevin Jones (catchweight)
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN 15 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+/ESPN “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+/ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC on ESPN 15: “Munhoz vs. Edgar” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.