Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to ESPN+ later tonight (Sat., May 22, 2021) to stage UFC Vegas 27 from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event will feature a Bantamweight bout between Rob Font and Cody Garbrandt. In the co-headlining act, Carla Esparza takes on Yan Xiaonan in women’s Strawweight action.
After suffering three straight knockout losses, Cody Garbrandt got back in the win column in a big way by scoring a devastating knockout of his own, sleeping Raphael Assuncao with a wicked shot that had everyone buzzing (see it again here). Now, the former UFC Bantamweight titleholder is looking to score his first back-to-back wins in five years against another heavy hitter in Rob Font. And if it’s a standup war he wants, he will get just that in the New England Cartel-trained fighter, who knows a thing or three about knocking people’s block off.
Winner of three straight, Font is coming off an impressive knockout win over former title contender and ex-WSOF champion, Marlon Moraes, stopping him with a barrage of punches in the very first round in Dec. 2020 (see it here). Ranked No. 3 at 135 pounds, Font is finally getting the matchups he’s long desired that will inch him closer to a shot at the division title. And with only Corey Sandhagen and Petr Yan (and maybe T.J. Dillashaw) ahead of him, a win over “No Love” definitely puts Font right in the mix.
As for the fight itself, no one will be shocked when the fight turns into an all-out slugfest given their past track records. And while Garbrandt does have dynamite in his hands and loves to give fans what they want, going toe-to-toe against Font isn’t the smartest of things to do. Yes, Cody is a standup specialist but as we have seen in the past, once he gets into a brawl he does tend to get a tad bit wild, opening him up to getting caught. While that is true for everyone with that style, Garbrandt has a tendency to let his defense go out the window when he throws caution to the wind. Font, meanwhile, is just slightly more technical on the feet, which will ultimately lead to the knockout win for him.
I wish Dana White and Co. would go ahead and just put the women’s Featherweight division out to pasture already. While it’s nice seeing Amanda Nunes as the first and only women’s “champ-champ,” the rest of the field doesn’t do much for the company. There aren’t even enough fighters in the weight class to include them in the rankings. Yet, here were are still chugging along and we have fighters like Felicia Spencer and Norma Dumont Viana who —although highly-talented — are just going to be fighting each other over and over if the promotion doesn’t get any new blood in there or force them to drop down to Bantamweight. And if they ever do get to a shot at the 145-pound title, they're going to run into a dominant champion that simply hasn’t shown flaws in her game. Sure, they’ll run into her at 135 pounds, but at least there they will have a bevy of options to keep busy and with more talent the chances of Nunes being dethroned — although vey slim — increase slightly.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
A fight between Edmen Shahbazyan and Jack Hermansson was a late addition to this event after it was yanked from UFC 262 due to COVID-19 protocols. A Heavyweight fight between Ben Rothwell and Philip Lins was cancelled a third time after Lins bowed out for undisclosed reasons. Rothwell will now face UFC newcomer Chris Barnett.
Raulian Paiva was pulled from his fight against David Dvorak — winner of 15 straight — after a brutal weigh cut landed him in the hospital. It was set to be a battle of two young and rising contenders looking to penetrate the Top 10. But Paiva’s well being is of the utmost importance at the moment. In his place, Juancamilo Ronderos will step in on a day’s notice to take the bout.
Denys Bondar was forced out of his fight against Victor Rodriguez due to an undisclosed injury. Stepping in to replace him is Bruno Silva. Danyelle Wolf also suffered an injury and was forced out of her women’s Featherweight bout against Felicia Spencer. Stepping in for her is Norma Dumont Viana.
Long-time MMA veteran Chris Barnett will finally get his shot in the big leagues because the 34-year old heavy-handed wrecking machine will make his Octagon debut against Ben Rothwell in a hard-hitting affair that will likely end in a knockout. Winner of six straight, “Huggy Bear” has been around the block a few times, racking up an impressive 21-6 record in numerous promotions and has a win over UFC veteran Walt Harris. In Rothwell, he will be facing one of the most experienced fighters in the game, but a win over “Big Ben” definitely gets the rest of the division’s attention.
Also, Rafael Alves will make his UFC debut against Damir Ismagulov in Lightweight action, but we will discuss that fight in the section that follows.
Sha Yilan will make his UFC debut against Joshua Culibao in what is sure-to-be an interesting Featherweight affair. If you thought Donald Cerrone was the king of turnarounds, he has nothing on Yilan, who competed a whopping 10 times in 2017. Yes, you read that correctly. He also fought six times last year, racking up a 5-1 record in the process. He is a good addition to the 145-pound weight class and while Culibao may not be the biggest name around, getting a win in his UFC debut would be huge for Yilan.
Juancamilo Ronderos answered the call when UFC matchmakers rang him up to see if he would make his debut for the promotion on a day’s notice. Winner of four straight, Ronderos has only been fighting professionally for two years and now finds himself with a huge opportunity to earn a permanent spot on the UFC roster with a win over David Dvorak, who hasn’t tasted defeat in nearly a decade.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
We have already discussed several undercard fights such as Sha Yilan vs. Joshua Culibao, Barnett vs Rothwell, and we will touch a bit more on a couple of “Prelims” fights in the sections below, so let’s take a look at the rest of the action.
Coming up short in his UFC debut, Victor Rodriguez hopes to turn it around and score his first win inside the Octagon in order to keep his job when he takes on Bruno Silva, who hasn’t had the best of luck with the promotion, either. After starting off his UFC career with three straight defeats (one was overturned to a no contest), Silva earned his first win in the promotion against J.P. Buys a couple of months ago. It was a much-needed win that prevented him from getting a pink slip.
After making a splash on the “Contender Series,” Rafael Alves got an invite to the big show against Damir Ismagulov in a 155-pound affair. Winner of five straight, Alves has competed around the world for 14 years before finally landing with UFC. Of his 19 wins, 14 of them have come by way of stoppage.
His foe, on the other hand, is on an even better run, winning 17 in a row and 22 of 23 overall. The former M-1 Lightweight champion was a nice pickup for UFC, but he has only managed to fight three times since 2018 and has been out of action for nearly two years. An impressive win over Alves will remind everyone just how dangerous he can be.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
We are going with two people here because both Yancy Medeiros and Court McGee are in desperate need of big wins. Medeiros has lost three straight to Donald Cerrone, Gregor Gillespie and Lando Vannata. He will be taking on Damir Hadzovic — who could use a win himself after losing two straight — on the undercard.
Court McGee, meanwhile, has also lost three in a row and five of his last six inside the Octagon. Standing in his way of getting back in the winner’s circle is Claudio Silva, the jiu-jitsu expert who saw his 14-fight win streak go up in smoke at the hands of James Krause in Oct. 2020 on “Fight Island.” That fight will also take place on the “Prelims.”
Interest Level: 6.5 of 10
In the co-main event, former women’s Strawweight champion Carla Esparza and Yan Xianon will collide in what should be dubbed a title eliminator bout. Esparza has won four in a row and is currently ranked No. 4. Xianon, on the other hand, is ahead of her at No. 3 and has won all six of her UFC fights, putting in her in prime position to fight division queen Rose Namajunas for the title next if she can take out “Cookie Monster.”
Edmen Shahbazyan suffered a big setback against Derek Brunson in Aug. 2020, suffering the first loss of his pro career after Brunson stopped him via strikes in the third round. “The Golden Boy” was one of the hottest prospects in the game, coming in with the backing and support of his former training partner Ronda Rousey. Now, Shahbazyan looks to reclaim some of that hype when he takes on Jack Hermansson, loser of two of his last three.
Heavy hitters Justin Tafa and Jared Vanderaa are looking to make the most of their main card slot when they collide in a hard-hitting big man affair. Tafa is coming off a loss to Carlos Felipe and is just 1-2 inside the Octagon, which means he needs a big statement win here. Vanderaa fizzled out in his UFC debut against Sergey Spivak, getting knocked out in round two. If he can’t wow UFC matchmakers in his sophomore effort it could be a short stint for the big man with the company.
After finally picking up his first win inside the Octagon in his last outing, Bill Algeo is looking to build on that momentum when he faces Ricardo Ramos in a Featherweight bout that got bumped up from the “Prelims” to the main card last minute. Despite coming off a loss and not having a ton of spotlight on him, Ramos has done pretty well for himself inside the eight-sided cage, collecting a 5-2 record so far.
Enjoy the fights!
UFC Vegas 27 Full Fight Card:
UFC Vegas 27 Main Event On ESPN+:
135 lbs.: Rob Font vs. Cody Garbrandt
UFC Vegas 27 Main Card On ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Carla Esparza vs. Yan Xiaonan
265 lbs.: Justin Tafa vs. Jared Vanderaa
145 lbs.: Felicia Spencer vs. Norma Dumont
185 lbs.: Jack Hermansson vs. Edmen Shahbazyan
145 lbs.: Bill Algeo vs. Ricardo Ramos
UFC Vegas 27 Prelims Under Card On ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Ben Rothwell vs. Chris Barnett
170 lbs.: Court McGee vs. Claudio Silva
125 lbs.: Victor Rodriguez vs. Bruno Silva
145 lbs.: Josh Culibao vs. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke
155 lbs.: Damir Hadzovic vs. Yancy MedeirosCANCELED
125 lbs.: David Dvorak vs. Juancamilo Ronderos
155 lbs.: Rafael Alves vs. Damir Ismagulov
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change due to COVID-19.*
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 27 fight card tonight right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 27: “Garbrandt vs. Font” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.