After a week off, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is headed back inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, tonight (Sat., Sept. 18, 2021) to stage UFC Vegas 37. Headlining the event will be a Light Heavyweight bout between Anthony Smith and Ryan Spann, while Devin Clark will face Ion Cutelaba in the evening’s co-feature.
Smith is still one of the best Light Heavyweight fighters in the game after working his way up to a title fight against former 205-pound kingpin, Jon Jones, in 2019. Though he lost the fight, “Lionheart” put on a great performance by going five rounds with one of the best fighters in the game. After bouncing back with a big win over Alexander Gustafsson, “Lionheart” went on to suffer a bad and painful loss against Glover Teixeira in which he lost a few teeth in the process. After losing to Aleksandar Rakic in his follow up bout, Smith managed to turn things around by winning two in a row against Devin Clark and Jimmy Crute. Still ranked at No. 6, Smith isn’t exactly out of the mix, so he can very well find himself in title contention with a couple of more wins.
Smith's next challenge will be a tough one since he will be battling Spann, a man who has put in the work but is very hungry to get the recognition, spotlight and opportunities that come with earning a 5-1 record inside the world’s toughest proving ground. Spann’s lone loss came at the hands of Johnny Walker via knockout. Other than that, the former Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) 205-pound champion has gone 9-1 over his last 10 fights, so he should really be getting more love from the UFC PR machine. And a win over Smith will help in that matter.
Spann and Smith have similar fighting styles; however, the jiu-jitsu edge goes to Smith. But, I don’t expect this fight to hit the ground all that much unless someone gets sent there via strikes. Both of these men prefer to stand-and-bang, and that’s what I fully expect from this fight. Though Smith loves to tango on the feet, I will give Spann the slight edge in that area thanks to his power. In the end, expect this fight to end with a knockout, no judges needed.
Another week, another lackluster Fight Night event — it’s become redundant at this point. On the bright side, the promotion has several big pay-per-view (PPV) events on the horizon, which should make up for several of these events.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Jim Miller was forced out of a fight after he was yanked from his bout against Nikolas Motta due to testing positive for COVID-19. Motta was ultimately removed from the event, as well. Corey McKenna was forced out of her fight against Emily Whitmire for undisclosed reasons and was replaced by Hannah Goldy. Dakota Bush also tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced out of his fight against Zhu Rhong. He was replaced by Brandon Jenkins.
No injuries reported for this event.
Mandy Bohm will put her undefeated (7-0) record on the line when she takes on Ariane Lipski. The former Bellator MMA fighter competed only once for the Viacom-owned promotion and is now looking to fry some bigger fish inside the Octagon. A win over Lipski will be a nice way to start off her UFC career.
Erin Blanchfield will come in from Invicta FC to face off against Sarah Alpar in women's Flyweight action. Blanchfield is currently on a three-fight win streak and is 6-1 overall in her MMA career with her lone loss coming at the hands of current UFC contender Tracy Cortez. Her opponent, Sarah Alpar, is coming off a loss to Jessica-Rose Clark in what was her UFC debut.
Brandon Jenkins got the call up to make his UFC debut on short notice to face Zhu Rhong after Dakota Bush became the latest fighter to bow out due to COVID-19. The former Professional Fighter's League (PFL) and LFA standout has won three in a row, two via first-round knockout.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
We’ve already discussed several “Prelims” fights in the sections prior, so let’s take a look at the rest of the undercard action. Raquel Pennington was fighting for the women’s Bantamweight title three years ago, now she is fighting on the undercard. It’s pretty odd since she is 2-2 since losing to Amanda Nunes, so why she can’t earn a main card spot on a Fight Night event is beyond me. She is coming off a win over Marion Renaeu and looks to make it two in a row when she battles Pannie Kianzad, who is on fire with four straight wins.
Montel Jackson is eying his second straight win as he takes on JP Buys, who came up short in his UFC debut against Bruno Silva. Prior to that setback, Buys was on a five-fight win streak. Also on the undercard, Gustavo Lopez will take on Heili Alateng in a battle of two up-and-comers in search of a win after coming up short in their last UFC bouts.
In Middleweight action, Impa Kasanganay will battle Carlston Harris, winner of four straight, including making good on his UFC debut against Christian Aguilera, taking him out via first round submission earlier this year.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
There are a couple of fighters who need wins tonight in order to hang on to their spots on the bloated UFC roster, including Antonio Arroyo, who is going into his fight against Joaquin Buckley with two straight losses. Arroyo has yet to earn a win inside the Octagon, so he better pick one up here against Buckley — a human highlight machine — if he wants to avoid the pink slip.
But, the person who needs a win even more is Mike Rodriguez, who has also lost two straight. Over his last four fights, he is just 1-3 and has a paltry record of 2-4-1 so far during his stint with the promotion. If he loses his third straight when he faces off against Tafon Nchukwi on the undercard I don’t see the promotion hanging on to him much longer.
Interest Level: 5/10
While this card won’t exactly go head-to-head with Bellator 266 — which features the long-awaited debut of Yoel Romero taking on Phil Davis in the main event — at least it will leave fight fans with some options on Saturday night. Perhaps that’s the reason UFC opted for an earlier start time?
In the co main event of UFC Vegas 37, UFC’s wild man Ion Cutelaba will try to get back in the winner’s circle after a horrid streak that has seen him go 1-3-1 over his last five fights with his lone victory coming two years ago. He will face Devin Clark, who was last seen getting choked out by event headliner, Anthony Smith.
Also, Ariane Lipski is trying to stop the bleeding of her two-fight skid when she battles undefeated (7-0) Mandy Bohm. Lipski has struggled so far in her UFC career and is just 2-4 during her time with the promotion, so she needs a big win her in order to remain on the roster.
Overall, it’s a decent night of fights with intriguing Light Heavyweight bouts for both promotions. We get to see if Smith can get back to the top or if Spann is going to break through to get his name in the mix. UFC Vegas 37 isn’t anything to get overly-excited about, but by now all of you hardcore fight fans should have gotten used to UFC’s new formula: load up the PPV event (sometimes) then fulfill ESPN obligations by putting on an event week after week which results in watered down Fight Night events more often than not.
UFC Vegas 37 Main Event On ESPN+:
205 lbs.: Anthony Smith vs. Ryan Spann
UFC Vegas 37 Main Card On ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Devin Clark vs. Ion Cutelaba
125 lbs.: Mandy Bohm vs. Ariane Lipski
155 lbs.: Christos Giagos vs. Arman Tsarukyan
185 lbs.: Antonio Arroyo vs. Joaquin Buckley
135 lbs.: Tony Gravely vs. Nate Maness
UFC Vegas 37 Prelims Card On ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Hannah Goldy vs. Emily Whitmire
135 lbs.: JP Buys vs. Montel Jackson
155 lbs.: Brandon Jenkins vs. Rong Zhu
125 lbs.: Sarah Alpar vs. Erin Blanchfield
205 lbs.: Tafon Nchukwi vs. Mike Rodriguez
170 lbs.: Carlston Harris vs. Impa Kasanganay
135 lbs.: Pannie Kianzad vs. Raquel Pennington
135 lbs.: Heili Alateng vs. Gustavo Lopez
*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 37 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.