After an epic UFC 295 pay-per-view (PPV) event where two new champions were crowned via knockout (Alex Pereira and Tom Aspinall), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns home to Las Vegas, Nevada, to its Apex facility for UFC Vegas 82. In the main event, No. 10-ranked Middleweight, Brendan Allen, takes on fellow ground specialist No. 13-seeded Paul Craig.
While UFC Vegas 82 isn't the strongest card regarding name value — especially after last week's fun card — it has several fun and exciting fights. So, before it goes down on ESPN+, let's check out some random storylines, tidbits, and statistics ahead of showtime ...
Allen competes in his second main event this weekend, even though his first headlining spot came on only a few hours' notice when he was bumped from the co-main to the main event after Nikita Krylov fell ill before his fight with Ryan Spann. Allen, 27, is 10-2 in UFC and is really starting to hit his stride. He is coming off a first round submission win over Bruno Silva at UFC Jacksonville (watch highlights). After the win, he was hoping for a fight with Dricus Du Plessis if the South African had lost to Robert Whittaker ... it didn't happen, and he got matched up with Craig. With a dominant win over Craig, Allen should get a Top 5 matchup next.
Even though Brendan Allen is ranked No. 10, he is underrated— MMA Mania (@mmamania) November 13, 2023
• 10-2 in the UFC
• Youngest fighter in the Top 15
• Only two losses in the UFC were to Sean Strickland and Chris Curtis on less than a weeks notice
• Strong regional career before the UFC
• Submitted Kevin… pic.twitter.com/3iAP11WORJ
UFC Veteran Gets A Main Event
After 16 fights in the promotion, "BearJew" finally received a main event honor. With a 9-6-1 UFC record and 100 percent finish rate (he has one draw), it is kind of odd why it took Craig so long to get a headlining spot. He holds wins over title challenger Magomedov Ankalaev, former Light Heavyweight champion Jamahal Hill, and contender Nikita Krylov.
‘W’ For Scotland
One last thing about Craig ... he is the first fighter from Scotland to headline a UFC card, which is a tremendous accolade.
During UFC Vegas 82 media day, Craig said he hopes to headline a UFC event in Scotland before he calls it a career.
Jake Matthews Plans To ... Sit Out?
Aussie UFC veteran, Jake Matthews, faces fast-rising prospect, Michael Morales, in UFC Vegas 82’s co-main event. It is the ultimate “Veteran vs. Prospect” matchup to see how good Morales really is, and because of that, Matthews wants to be rewarded with a win.
During UFC Vegas 82 media day, Matthews said that when he beats Morales, he will demand a Top 15 Welterweight matchup and will sit out until he gets it. Matthews has alternated wins and losses since Sept. 2020, while Morales is 3-0 in UFC.
The "Featured bout" — one of the most anticipated fights of UFC Vegas 82 — is a Lightweight matchup between Jordan Leavitt vs. Chase Hooper. The matchup is weird because both guys are super awkward fighters inside and outside the cage. Even Hooper said it is the "battle of the least intimidating guys on the roster."
The fight has been named the biggest "Meme Fight" of 2023 because of its potential strangeness.
Leavitt is coming off his first standing technical knockout of Victor Martinez, while Hooper is coming off a dominant win in his first fight at Lightweight in the UFC.
This is going to be weird — tune in if Leavitt makes it to the fight, of course.
Leavitt is also training at a new gym for this fight. For his entire career, Leavitt trained at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas, but after 17 fights (including his AMMY career), "The Monkey King" is now training at Xtreme Couture, which is less than 10 minutes away.
With more training partners and new coaching, the sky is the limit for Leavitt.
Top 15 Strawweights go head-to-head at UFC Vegas 82 as No. 9-ranked Luana Pinheiro takes on No. 10-seeded Amanda Ribas. During UFC Vegas 82 media day, Ribas revealed that she lived with Pinheiro in Brazil when they were teenagers. Both fighters were surprised when the fight was offered because of their history. In fact, Pinheiro "never thought" they would fight.
Moving Back Down
After suffering a second round technical knockout loss to Mayce Barber at UFC Jacksonville, Ribas is returning to the division where she has had the most success: Strawweight. For the past three years, the Brazilian has been flip-flopping divisions, mainly because she can take short-notice fights at Flyweight; however, after getting beaten down by Barber, Ribas is moving down, which is the right division if she wants to contend for the title.
Welcome To UFC!
- Payton Talbott (6-0) fights Nick Aguirre. Talbott is coming off a contract-winning performance on season seven of Contender Series against Reyes Cortez. Prior to his Contender Series win, he finished all of his fights via (technical) knockout.
- Myktybek Orolbai (11-1-1) takes on Uros Medic on less than one week's notice, replacing Jonny Parsons. Orolbai is from Kyrgyzstan and is coming off a brutal knockout win at Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) 170 less than three weeks ago, and he holds a 91 percent finish rate.
- Caio Machado (8-1-1) faces Mick Parkin in a Heavyweight bout. Machado also comes from season seven of Contender Series, but was a controversial signing because his fight was absolutely awful. Nevertheless, he holds a 75 percent finish rate with four knockout wins.
- Rafael Estevam (11-0) fights Charles Johnson. Two fight cancelations have kept Estevam out of action since he won his contract on season six of Contender Series.
Short Notice, Last Chance
Russia's Denis Tiuliulin is stepping up on five days' notice to fight Christian Leroy Duncan, replacing Cesar Almeida. Tiuliulin (11-8) is on a two-fight losing streak, getting finished in both, and has a 1-3 record inside UFC. This may be his last chance to stay inside of the promotion.
‘Prelims’ Headliner Banger
Joanderson Brito vs. Jonathan Pierce is UFC Vegas 82’s final “Prelims” undercard bout ... and it might be the best fight on the entire card. Both fighters are super underrated in the Featherweight division and are currently on nice streaks.
"JSP" is on a five-fight win streak and is coming off a win over Darren Elkins. He was scheduled to face Bryce Mitchell earlier this year, but an injury halted that. Brito is on a three-fight win streak, with all of his wins coming in the first round.
This fight is awesome and has stakes because the winner most likely gets a crack at the Top 15.
Welcome Back, Chad Anheliger
Canada's Chad Anheliger returns to action after a 14-month layoff. He was last in action at UFC 279 against Alatengheili, but dropped a unanimous decision. The 36-year-old faces Jose Johnson in what should be an entertaining fight ... for as long as it lasts.
Thread:— Feño (Ninja) (@fenoxsky) September 6, 2022
Just some cool clips form Chad Anheliger who is fighting this weekend. pic.twitter.com/IuB6VCrOJG
Winners And Losers
Eleven fighters are coming off wins, while 17 are coming off losses.
Here are the divisions that will be on display this Saturday:
- One Heavyweight fight
- Two Middleweight fights
- Two Welterweight fights
- Two Lightweight fights
- Two Featherweight fights
- Two Bantamweight fights
- One men's Flyweight fight
- One women's Bantamweight fight
- One women's Strawweight fight
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 82 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 5 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 82: “Allen vs. Craig” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
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