After a one-week stop at UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back on the road for another trip to Jacksonville, Fla., for its fifth show on ABC. In UFC Jacksonville’s main event, No. 5-ranked Featherweight, Josh Emmett, locks horns with No. 9-seeded Ilia Topuria.
UFC Jacksonville is loaded with fun fights up and down the card, so before it goes down on ABC (and ESPN+), let's check out some random storylines, tidbits, and statistics ahead of showtime ...
‘El Matador’ Pops Headliner Cherry
Topuria — only six fights into this UFC career — competes in his first UFC main event this weekend as he looks to snatch Emmett's Top 5 ranking in the Featherweight division. Thus far, Topuria has been perfect in his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career and very, very impressive in UFC. In his last outing, he battered Bryce Mitchell and then tapped him out like a boss (watch highlights).
Future Title Shot?
With a win at UFC Jacksonville, one could argue that Topuria could fight the winner Alexander Volkanovksi vs. Yair Rodriguez for the Featherweight championship. I mean, Rodriguez earned his title unification fight after toppling Emmett. Furthermore, with a win, Topuria will sit at No. 5 with only Arnold Allen, Brian Ortega, Max Holloway and Rodriguez ahead of him. Holloway has a fight with "The Korean Zombie" in September, Allen just lost to Holloway, Ortega has already got two shots at the title, and Rodriguez is fighting at UFC 290.
This is how MMA math really works!
In addition, Topuira believes he should be next and said so during UFC Jacksonville media day (watch it):
Do Or Die
This Saturday's main event is incredibly important for Emmett as this is his last chance at fighting for a UFC championship. He had an opportunity to capture interim gold against Rodriguez earlier this year at UFC 284 but was submitted in the second round via triangle choke (watch it here).
At 38 years old, it is do or die for Emmett ... straight up. A loss to Topuria will send him down the rankings, and he will fight up-and-coming contenders until he retires.
Josh Emmett— Ocelot MMA (@Ocelot_MMA) June 19, 2023
UFC Career Recap
Top 11 Female Flyweights Collide
In the co-main event Saturday night, Amanda Ribas defends her No. 8 ranking against No. 11 Maycee Barber, who is currently on a four-fight win streak. While a win is significant to stay afloat in the now-fresh Flyweight division, a loss could be detrimental.
Champion Alexa Grasso will most likely defend her championship in a few months against former Flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko; however, after that fight, Erin Blanchfield, Manon Fiorot, and Talia Santos are chomping at the bit to get their shot and are at the top of the division for a reason. A win at UFC Jacksonville puts Ribas and Barber right under those names while the loser gets erased.
Can Brendan Allen Break His Curse?
Every time Brendan Allen gets a top-15 opponent, and that opponent pulls out of the fight; he gets knocked out. In 2020, he was scheduled to face Ian Heinisch, and then Sean Strickland knocked him out. In 2021, he was expected to face Brad Tavares, and then Chris Curtis knocked him out. He was scheduled to meet Jack Hermansson this time, and he now faces Bruno Silva.
Allen is riding a four-fight win streak.
Currently ranked at #13 in the UFC Middleweight division, Brendan Allen (@BrendanAllenMMA) is always improving coming off an enormous submission victory over the BJJ ace Andre Muniz!— Combat Sports Today (@CSTodayNews) June 21, 2023
Mr. All-In is ready to notch another win at #UFCJacksonville! pic.twitter.com/sYjJYVPOjK
Knock On Wood
There have been some instances of bad luck in UFC such as Ian McCall and Leon Edwards, but holy s—t, Zhalgas Zhumagulov, must have broken a mirror and walked under a ladder. In the last month, he has had three different opponent shakeups, two of which resulted in canceled fights (the week of). He was supposed to fight Felipe Bunes last week at UFC Vegas 75, but Bunes pulled out two days before the fight.
So, that is just canceled fights. He has also been on the wrong end of some horrible split decisions that most of the fan base believes he won. And because of those nasty split decision losses, he is 1-5 in his last six appearances.
He faces newcomer Joshua Van this Saturday. *knock on wood*
They finally did the photoshoot with Zhalgas Zhumagulov’s hair cut pic.twitter.com/xT58kmpWLE— MMA Mania (@mmamania) June 14, 2023
Welcome To UFC!
Three fighters are making their proper Octagon debuts this weekend at UFC Jacksonville, with two of them being on one week's notice or less.
- Austen Lane (12-3) fights Justin Tafa after securing a contract on season six of Dana White's Contender Series (DWCS) by knocking out Richard Jacobi. (He was scheduled to fight Justin's brother Junior earlier this year at UFC 284, but had to withdraw)
- Joshua Van (7-1) takes on Zhumagulov. Van was scheduled to compete in season seven of DWCS in August but got the call to skip that. He is the Fury FC Flyweight champion.
- Jose "Chepe" Mariscal (13-6) fights Trevor Peek, filling in for Victor Martinez. Mariscal has been on the mixed martial arts (MMA) regional scene for a long time busting his ass. He is riding a three-fight win streak, all coming via stoppage.
Banger of the Week
Several options exist for this week's banger of the week, including Peek vs. Mariscal. However, David Onama vs. Gabriel Santos is the choice, with both fighters coming to bang and are the epitome of kill or be killed.
Onama holds a 100 percent finish rate and with six knockouts. He is finally returning after his “Fight of the Year” contender with Nate Landwehr. Santos has a 70 percent finish rate and turned heads in his UFC debut when he arguably beat surging prospect Lerone Murphy on short notice in his home country.
Enjoy this violence.
February 19, 2022— _ ⚔️ (@YT_SKYLO1) June 22, 2023
UFC Fight Night: Hill vs. Walker
David Onama knocks out Gabriel Benítez in the very first round with high-volume punches pic.twitter.com/Uaa4Z0myG7
Turman Going Down To WW
After 10 fights at Middleweight, Wellington Turman returns to Welterweight, where he started his career. As of now, we don't know the reason the 26-year-old Brazilian is moving back down. Turman is 3-4 in UFC and is coming off a loss to Andre Petroski at UFC 281.
Randy Brown welcomes Turman to the Welterweight division.
‘Fresh Prince’ Gets His Top 15 Shot
Since losing his UFC debut, Phil Rowe has rattled off three straight wins (all finishes) to keep his 100 percent finish rate intact. In his last outing at UFC Orlando, he stopped Niko Price.
Because of the roll he is on, Rowe gets No. 11-ranked Neil Magny ... his first shot at the Welterweight Top 15 rankings.
Careful What You Wish For
After Gillian Robertson's successful Strawweight debut at UFC Kansas City, where she submitted an incredulous Piera Rodriguez, she called out Rodriguez's teammate, Tabatha Ricci. And just a few days later, the fight was booked for UFC Jacksonville.
Ricci will defend her No. 15 spot in the rankings as she rides a three-fight win streak.
On top of the fact that Robertson beat Ricci's teammate, the fight is exciting because both women are good black belt grapplers.
THIS SATURDAY, witness a strawweight storm on the #UFCJacksonville prelims! “Baby Shark" Tabatha Ricci vs "Savage" Gillian Robertson . Who's your pick to win?— Women's MMA Rankings (@WMMARankings) June 19, 2023
Find all upcoming WMMA UFC fights https://t.co/yi5cNpiV9Y#WMMA #UFC pic.twitter.com/po30liGcQe
SD Dumas Vs. Factory X
Sedriques Dumas returns to action after losing his highly anticipated UFC debut via second-round stoppage to Josh Fremd. Dumas faces Fremd's teammate, Cody Brundage, who steps in on one-week notice for Puna Soriano.
Both Brundage and Fremd train at Factory X in Englewood, Colo., and also, this isn't the first time the teammates faced the same opponent. Indeed, Brundage and Fremd fought Tresean Gore in 2022 (watch highlights).
Two fighters still have their undefeated record: Topuria and Peek.
Winners And Losers
Eighteen fighters are coming off wins, while eight are coming off losses.
Here are the divisions that will be on display this Saturday:
- One Heavyweight fight
- Two Middleweight fights
- Two Welterweight fight
- Two Lightweight fights
- Three Featherweight fight
- One men's Flyweight fight
- One women's Flyweight fight
- One women's Strawweight fight
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Jacksonville fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ABC (also on ESPN+) at 3 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Jacksonville news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.