UFC Orlando, which takes place this weekend (Sat., Dec. 3, 2022) inside Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., is almost upon us. The ESPN-streamed show (simulcast on ESPN+) is solid from top to bottom (see full card here). In UFC Orlando’s main event, Stephen Thompson fights recently “un-retired” Kevin Holland in a Welterweight striking showdown, while Heavyweight knockout artists — No. 4-ranked contender Tai Tuivasa and No. 5-seeded Sergei Pavlovich — collide in the co-feature.
UFC Orlando has some random storylines, tidbits and statistics to ponder before showtime in the “Sunshine State,” so let’s have it ...
- It’s been only three months since Tai Tuivasa was in a three-round war with Ciryl Gane in which he was knocked out at UFC Paris. Yep, and he returns to action against No. 5-ranked Sergei Pavlovich. Oh, and he wants to turn around and fight in Perth, Australia, in Feb. 2023.
No rest for the wicked.
- Another super fast (and questionable) turnaround is Kyle Daukaus, who returns to action against Eryk Anders. Daukaus was brutally finished at UFC Austin in June, during which Roman Dolidze literally broke Daukaus' face in three places. Now, the repaired Middleweight competed again only five months after he had three plates screwed into his face.
Safe travels, gentlemen.
New Weight Class ... And Training Camp
- Marcelo Rojo makes the walk to the Octagon for the third time at UFC Orlando, but it will be with a new camp behind him. After his loss to Kyler Phillips at UFC 271, Rojo changed everything — management, camp, team, and weight class. Indeed, “Pitbull” now trains at Glory MMA with James Krause, alongside his close friend Brandon Moreno. He will also fight at Featherweight, where he started his career. In short, it’s a new and improved Rojo, who says it has been the best camp of his life and feels extra motivated because of all the changes.
- Niko Price is finally back, battling Phil Rowe in a “Florida vs. Florida” match up. Price has been out of action since his decision win over Alex Oliveira at UFC Vegas 38 in Oct. 2021. Since then, Price had surgery to repair his ACL, MCL and LCL. In fact, Price told MMA Junkie that he has been fighting on one leg since 2018. Two-knee and sober Price could be a mythical fighter ... time will tell.
- Bryan Barberena is on quite the run right now. He is riding a four-fight win streak, and within those wins, he has beaten UFC legends Matt Brown and Robbie Lawler. On Saturday, he faces another legend, former Lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. Move over, Randy Orton — Barberena is taking your old nickname.
- Speaking of UFC legends, a couple of others are on the card. Clay Guida makes the walk for professional fight No. 60 against Scott Holtzman. In addition, Darren Elkins faces Jonathan Pearce in UFC fight No. 26. Finally, Michael “The Menace” Johnson looks to rebound from his robbery loss earlier this year against Marc Diakiese. Oh, and to make it even better, all of them are back in front of a crowd for the first time since the pandemic.
Ranked Match Ups
- In the headliner, “Wonderboy” defends his No. 6 ranking in the Welterweight rankings against Holland.
- Roman Dolizde gets his first Top 15-ranked match up on short notice when he takes on No. 8-seeded Middleweight, Jack Hermansson.
- Matheus Nicolau defends his No. 7 Flyweight ranking against Matt Schnell (No. 6).
- Tuivasa — the No. 4-ranked Heavyweight — tries to slow down a surging Pavlovich (No. 5).
- On the “Prelims” undercard, No. 13-ranked women’s Strawweight Emily Ducote, tries to take Angela Hill's position at No. 12.
- Amanda Ribas, who is ranked in two divisions, is trying to move up the Flyweight rankings, when she battles No. 13-seeded Tracy Cortez.
- I mentioned Rojo earlier, but he takes on Francis Marshall, who makes his UFC debut this weekend. Marshall earned a UFC contract on this year's Contender Series season.
- UFC Orlando will mark the seventh co-main event for Rafael dos Anjos. His first co-feature was against Donald Cerrone at UFC Fight Night: “Condit vs. Kampmann 2” way back in 2013 (the Brazilian boasts 11 UFC main events if you care).
Rafael Dos Anjos’ last 20 opponents:— MMA mania (@mmamania) November 29, 2022
- Yazmin Jauregui returns to action after her banger promotional debut at UFC San Diego against Iasmin Lucindo. Remember that? Very, very fun fight. She takes on Brazil's Istela Nunes.
- Genaro Valdez also makes his second UFC appearance after his wild first-round banger against Matt Frevola at UFC 270 earlier this year (watch highlights). He takes on Natan Levy in what should be an entertaining fight.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Orlando fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN/ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Orlando: “Thompson vs. Holland” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.