UFC Vegas 33 will down later tonight (Sat., July 31, 2021) inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. Headlining the ESPN/ESPN+-streamed event will be a Middleweight fight between Uriah Hall and Sean Strickland. In the twice-revamped co-main event, Kyung Ho Kang battles Rani Yahya in Bantamweight action.
Since first stepping foot inside the Octagon in 2013, Hall hasn’t exactly lived up to the hype many had of him coming in from The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). After all, when you deliver the most-impressive knockout in the history of the show people expect big things moving forward, especially when you’re a champion coming in, as was the case with Hall being the Ring Middleweight title holder. “Prime Time,” though, stumbled out of the gate, dropping his first two fights with the promotion. He has had an up-and-down career since then, winning three, losing one, winning two, then losing three before splitting his next two fights. But since 2018, Hall has found some momentum by winning four straight, the longest win streak of his career since beginning his MMA fight campaign by going 4-0. In his last fight, Hall defeated Chris Weidman via first round technical knockout after “All American’s” leg snapped early in the opening round at UFC 261 (see it here). Nonetheless, Hall is about to go for the longest win streak of his pro career when he takes on Strickland.
Like Hall, Strickland came to UFC on a hot streak, and though he had a decent record of 6-3 through his first nine fights, he never has caught the momentum he needed to start making waves in the crowded division. But, again like Hall, 2018 was the start of his run of winning four in a row. Strickland has quickly garnered a reputation of being somewhat of a bad boy. He says whatever he feels with no filter and has raised eyebrows when it comes to his training. One video showed him nearly come to blows with a training partner over a disagreement in training methods, while his recent comments of him bragging about breaking several of his partners’ noses didn’t exactly endear him to fight fans. At the end of the day, though, the man is a machine once he steps into the cage. Currently outside of the Top 10 looking in, Strickland (No. 11) will move in if he can stop Hall. It’s easy to assume “Prime Time” will get the better of Strickland if they go toe-to-toe, but he is no slouch on the feet. Though Hall may be flashier, Strickland isn’t afraid of getting into a dog fight, which won’t bode well for his opponent if that happens.
To say the card is underwhelming is an understatement. Plus, when you couple the fact that it will go head-to-head with Bellator 263 — which will feature a highly-anticipated title fight between Patricio Freire and A.J. McKee — the promotion should expect low viewership numbers once the dust settles. Sure, a lot of late setbacks affected it, but it wasn’t all that stellar to begin with if we are being honest.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
This card suffered two co-main event changes on the same day. Roman Kopylov was unable to gain entry to the United States, forcing the promotion to yank his fight against Sam Alvey. In turn, Alvey will face Wellington Thurman next month. Hours later, the revised co-main event between Shamil Aburakhimov and Kyle Daukaus was scratched, as well.
John Castaneda pulled out of his fight against Ronnie Lawrence for undisclosed reasons and was ultimately replaced by Trevin Jones. In turn, Lawrence was deemed medically unfit to compete prior to weigh ins and the fight was canceled. Visa issues got in the way of Mounir Lazzez gaining entry to the United States, as well, and was forced out of his fight against Niklas Stolze and replaced by Jared Gooden.
But wait, there’s more!
At a catastrophic weigh-in, former UFC Flyweight champion Nico Montano missed weight by seven pounds — this after she decided to move up to Bantamweight — and her fight against Wu Yanan was scratched by Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC).
Alex Perez and Askar Askarov were set to tango at the event in a crucial fight at 125 pounds before it was scratched after Askarov suffered a broken hand. Also, Kai Kamaka III stepped in to face Danny Chavez after Doo Ho Choi was forced out of the fight with an undisclosed injury.
After earning his way onto UFC’s roster with an impressive win on “Contender Series,” Collin Anglin will finally get to make his debut for the promotion after it was delayed when he takes on fellow newcomer Melsik Baghdasaryan. Winner of seven in a row, Anglin punched his way to the big show on the heels of a good run that saw him winning four straight fights via knockout before landing on “Contender Series” in 2020.
Baghadasaryan also made his way to the Octagon via the show. After losing his MMA debut in 2015, he took a break from the sport to focus on kickboxing. When he decided to return five years later all he did was win and knock people’s heads off, winning four straight fights via first round knockout ... all of them in 32 seconds or less. To say he prefers to strike would be an understatement, so Anglin better be on point if he wants to avoid a quick exit from the cage.
Orion Cosce is yet another “Contender Series” alum who loves to get in and out as quickly as possible. Undefeated at 7-0, Cosce has won all of his fights via stoppage, six knockouts and one submission, four in the very first round. He will be taking on Phillip Rowe, who failed to make a splash in his UFC debut, losing to Gabriel Green at UFC 258.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
We’ve touched on a couple of fights already, so let’s dissect the rest of the “Prelims” action we have yet to talk about. Ashley Yoder and Jinh Yu Frey will collide in a Flyweight bout of struggling combatants who just can’t seem to get it going. Yoder is just 1-3 in her last four, while Frey is just 1-2 inside the Octagon. Neither woman is in position to earn a spot on the rankings with a win, but at this point they are simply looking to keep their spot on the roster.
Danny Chavez saw his four fight win streak go out the window in his last fight against Jared Gordon, so the “Columbian Warrior” is eyeing a trip back to the winner’s circle when he battles Kai Kamaka, who has been anything but stellar inside the UFC cage. He did win his UFC debut in 2020 to extend his win streak to six, but he has dropped two straight. A third loss wouldn’t be ideal, obviously, but the promotion may take it easy on him if he loses since he is stepping in on short notice.
Rafa Garcia and Chris Gruetzemacher will collide in a Lightweight bout that sees two fighters going in two different directions. Both are coming off losses but Garcia losing to Nasrat Haqparast was the first setback of his career while Gruetzemacher is 1-3 in his last four fights. He does have a win over Joe Lauzon, but he needs to show UFC matchmakers something here if he wants to stick around for the long haul.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Zarrukh Adashev and Jared Gooden are both in desperate need of wins after they each dropped their last two fights inside the Octagon. Adashev — who will face Ryan Benoit — came in hot with three straight wins under the Bellator banner but fizzled once he stepped foot inside the Octagon, losing consecutive fights to Tyson Nam and Su Maderji. As for Gooden — who takes on Niklas Stolze — he has also gone winless inside the Octagon, losing his first two fights against Alan Jouban and Abubakar Nurmagomedov. It’s safe to say whichever of the two loses tonight will likely be shopping for a new promotion within the coming weeks.
Interest Level: 4/10
The card is severely lacking and the fact that several bouts were cancelled last minute only diluted it that much more. When you’re left with a co-main event between Kyung Ho Kang and Rani Yahya, you know lady luck simply wasn’t a friend this time around.
The main card will also see Cheyanne Buys — who came up short in her UFC debut — take on Gloria de Paula, who also threw up a dud in her first-ever fight with the promotion earlier this year. Plus, Jared Gooden will battle Niklas Stolze in Welterweight action.
The event also features the return of Bryan Barberena, who recently snapped his two fight losing streak. He will face Jason Witt, loser of two of his first three fights inside the Octagon. Neither man is scorching hot at the moment, which could mean they will come in motivated to put on a show. Of course, the main dish between Hall and Strickland should be competitive, though it won’t make up for everything else this card is lacking. Again, the fact that it will go up against Bellator 263 — which features a nice collection of fights — will mean it won’t be the best night — numbers wise — for UFC.
UFC Vegas 33 Main Event On ESPN/ESPN+:
185 lbs.: Uriah Hall vs. Sean Strickland
UFC Vegas 33 Main Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (9 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Cheyanne Buys vs. Gloria de Paula
170 lbs.: Niklas Stolze vs. Jared Gooden
170 lbs.: Bryan Barberena vs. Jason Witt
145 lbs.: Collin Anglin vs. Melsik Baghdasaryan
135 lbs.: Kyung Ho Kang vs. Rani Yahya— CANCELED (details here) 265 lbs.: Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Chris Daukaus— CANCELED (details here) 185 lbs.: Sam Alvey vs. Roman Kopylov— CANCELED (details here)
UFC Vegas 33 Prelims Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (6:30 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Rafa Garcia vs. Chris Gruetzemacher
145 lbs.: Danny Chavez vs. Kai Kamaka
125 lbs.: Zarrukh Adashev vs. Ryan Benoit
115 lbs.: Jinh Yu Frey vs. Ashley Yoder
170 lbs.: Orion Cosce vs. Phillip Rowe
135 lbs.: Nicco Montano vs. Wu Yanan— CANCELED (details here) 135 lbs.: Trevin Jones vs. Ronnie Lawrence— CANCELED (details here)
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change due to COVID-19.*
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 33 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 9 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 33 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive here. For the complete “Hall vs. Strickland” fight card and ESPN/ESPN+ lineup click here.