Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is gearing up to stage UFC Vegas 20 tonight (Sat., Feb. 27, 2021) live from inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring a Heavyweight bout between Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Ciryl Gane. In the co-headlining act, Magomed Ankalaev takes on Nikita Krylov in Light Heavyweight action.
UFC’s Heavyweight division is alive and well and there has been a lot of movement as of late. Derrick Lewis just slept Curtis Blaydes (see it), giving him the No. 2 ranking and a case for another title shot. Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou are set to run it back at UFC 260 in a couple of weeks, while Jon Jones is ready to crash the party in his debut at 265 pounds against the winner of that title fight. But aside from the usual suspects, the new blood is starting to make some noise, specifically Tom Aspinall and Chris Daukaus, who earned big wins against Andrei Arlovski and Aleksei Oleinik, respectively, at UFC Vegas 19.
But two men who are starting to build their respective cases as legit title contenders are Rozenstruik and Gane. “Bigi Boy” is 5-1 inside the Octagon — all knockouts — with his lone loss coming at the hands of Ngannou. Ten of 11 of Rozenstruik’s wins have come by way of knockout — seven in the first round — so his power is certified. And his UFC wins haven’t exactly come against slouches, dusting Junior dos Santos, Arlovski and Alistair Overeem along the way. Gane, on the other hand, is undefeated at 7-0 including winning all four of his UFC contests. And while he does boast crazy knockout power, as well, he has a few submission wins to his credit, proving that he is not a one-trick pony.
When it comes to Heavyweight action, everyone expects the big homerun shot that will end the fight in the blink of an eye, and rightfully so. But as we have seen in the past, there are times when two men who boast heavy hands are tentative once the action gets going. All you have to do is look at Ngannou vs. Lewis for proof. In this case, I do not think that either man will be gun shy. I expect a slugfest, and if it does remain standing, the striking — as far as power goes — is fairly even, though Gane does use his kicks better. It’s easy to assume that Gane has the advantage on the ground thanks to his three submissions, but we have yet to really see “Bigi Boy” have to use any of his ground game. Nevertheless, one man will take a huge leap in the rankings at Heavyweight, and when it comes to the title picture it doesn’t take many wins to earn a title shot at 265 pounds.
It’s not a big issue, but I have a small problem with some of the matchmaking here, in particular a women’s Flyweight bout between Sabina Mazo and Alexis Davis, which will go down on the undercard. Mazo has won three in a row and 3-1 overall in her UFC career. Davis, meanwhile, is on a downward trajectory after losing three in a row and hasn’t won a fight since 2017. Why not put Mazo up against someone with a winning track over the last few years? Why give her a veteran who just hasn’t looked great in nearly four years?
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Marcelo Rojo was set to make his UFC debut against Raoni Barcelos but that was ultimately canceled after Barcelos tested positive for COVID-19. Originally, Barcelos was expected to face Raphael Assuncao at the event before Assuncao bowed out after testing for the coronavirus himself. Alex Oliveira was in line to face Randy Brown but after Brown bowed out of the fight, “Cowboy” was matched up against UFC newcomer Ramazan Kuramagomedov. In turn, Kurmagomedov fell ill prior to weighing in and his fight against “Cowboy” was scrapped.
Alonzo Minefield was looking to snap his two fight skid at Light Heavyweight against William Knight, winner of three in a row, but was forced to bow out of the fight after testing positive for COVID-19. Sam Hughes stepped in to face Emily Whitmire after Hannah Cifers pulled out, but the fight was ultimately scrapped after Whitmire was removed from the card for undisclosed reasons.
No injuries were reported or this event.
Ronnie Lawrence will look to build on his three fight win streak when he makes his official UFC debut on the “Prelims” against Vince Cachero. Lawrence was last seen defeating Jose Johnson on the “Contender Series” last September, giving him his sixth win in seven pro fights. Cachero, on the other hand, is coming off a no contest (NC) outing against Jammal Emmers in his UFC debut.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
We’ve already discussed several of the undercard fights in previous sections, so let’s take a look at the rest of the underbelly. Headlining the “Prelims” portion of the event is a Lightweight bout between Alexander Hernandez and Thiago Moises. This fight promises to be a bang-fest. Moises is currently riding a two fight win streak after impressive back-to-back wins over Michael Johnson and Bobby Green. As for Hernandez, he is coming off a big win over Chris Gruetzemacher.
Dustin Jacoby is in search of his fourth straight win (second inside the Octagon) after making a splash in his UFC debut by knocking out Justin Ledet in the very first round last October. Coming out of the “Contender Series,” Jacoby showed a lot of promise and he has lived up to it so far. He will be in for a tough test against Maxim Grishin, who is looking to build off his win over Gadzhimurad Antigulov, whom he defeated via knockout last October.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
It seems so long ago that Alexis Davis was at one time going toe-to-toe with Ronda Rousey in a women’s Bantamweight title fight after reeling off three straights wins inside the Octagon to start off her UFC career. And though she eventually got knocked out by “Rowdy” in just 16 seconds, Davis did put the work in to get to the big dance. Since her loss to Rousey in 2014, however, Davis has only managed to rack up a paltry 3-4 record, losing her last three fights at Flyweight. As she gears up to face Sabina Mazo — winner of three straight — in Bantamweight action, Davis finds herself in a must-win situation because if she loses her fourth straight it could mark the end of her UFC career.
Interest Level: 6 of 10
It’s not a bad card, really, because the main portion of the event has some interesting matchups, including the co-main event which will feature Magomed Ankalaev taking on Nikita Krylov. With Ion Cutelaba finally in Ankalaev’s rear-view mirror, he can look forward to a fresh face staring at him across the cage. Krylov hasn’t competed in close to a year, defeating Johnny Walker in March of 2020, which was preceded by a close split-decision defeat at the hands of Glover Teixeira. Anakalaev, meanwhile, has won five in a row and is looking to infiltrate the Top 10 with a win here.
Another big fight is a rematch between Jimmie Rivera and Pedro Munhoz. The two were set to run it back twice before but the bout was canceled for various reasons, more recently scratched from UFC 258 after someone within one of the camps tested positive for COVID-19. The two 135-pound studs initially threw down in 2015 which saw Rivera walk away with a close split-decision win. “El Terror” wants to go up 2-0 and close the book on this rivalry while Munhoz would love nothing more than to get one back.
Angela Hill will look to turn it around and snap her two fight skid when she faces off against Ashley Yoder, who she defeated at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 25 Finale three years ago. Both women have had up-and-down careers, with Yoder collecting a 3-5 record inside the Octagon and “Overkill” boasting a 6-7 mark under the UFC banner.
Coming out of TUF, Alex Caceres was expected to do big things for UFC, perhaps even one day challenge for the title. “Bruce Leeroy” hasn’t quite lived up to those expectations, but he has remained consistent enough to have a near decade-long career with UFC. Since 2019, though, he has been on fire winning three in a row. He will face a "Hard-Hitting Hillbilly” in Kevin Croom, who is looking for his first win inside the Octagon.
Rounding out the main card is a women’s Flyweight bout between Montana De La Rosa and Mayra Bueno Silva. De La Rosa is looking to bounce back after losing to Viviane Araujo in her last bout. Overall, she is 4-2 under the UFC banner and a win over Silva — who is looking to build off her recent win over Mara Romero Borella — would be huge for her and allow her to take a big leap in the rankings.
Enjoy the fights!
UFC Vegas 20 Full Fight Card:
UFC Vegas 20 Main Event on ESPN+:
265 lbs.: Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Ciryl Gane
UFC Vegas 20 Main Card on ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Magomed Ankalaev vs. Nikita Krylov
125 lbs.: Montana De La Rosa vs. Mayra Bueno Silva
135 lbs.: Pedro Munhoz vs. Jimmie Rivera
115 lbs.: Angela Hill vs. Ashley Yoder— CANCELED (details here)
145 lbs.: Alex Caceres vs. Kevin Croom
UFC Vegas 20 ‘Prelims’ Under Card on ESPN+ (6 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Alexander Hernandez vs. Thiago Moises
170 lbs.: Alex Oliveira vs. Ramazan Kuramagomedov— CANCELED (details here)
135 lbs.: Alexis Davis vs. Sabina Mazo
135 lbs.: Vince Cachero vs. Ronnie Lawrence
205 lbs.: Maxim Grishin vs. Dustin Jacoby
***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 Vegas 20 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 20 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here. For the complete “Rozenstruik vs. Gane” fight card and ESPN+ line up click here.