With Umar Nurmagomedov out of commission, Rob Font steps in to save the day this Saturday (Aug. 5, 2023) when he battles fellow slugger, Cory Sandhagen, inside Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. UFC Nashville will also host unbeaten Tatiana Suarez’s battle with Jessica Andrade and a Light Heavyweight clash pitting the struggling Dustin Jacoby against the surging Kennedy Nzechukwu.
We’re down to just five “Prelims” undercard bouts at time of writing (details here), the first two of which we’ve prepared for you below. Let’s have a look ...
125 lbs.: Cody Durden vs. Jake Hadley
Cody Durden (15-4-1) stumbled out of the UFC gate with a 1-2-1 run, highlighted by stoppage losses to Jimmy Flick and Muhammad Mokaev. He’s since bounced back to win three straight, among them upset decisions over Carlos Mota and Charles Johnson.
He steps in for Tagir Ulanbekov on less than three weeks’ notice.
Jake Hadley (10-1) earned a UFC contract despite missing weight ahead of his Contender Series victory over Mitch Raposo, only to drop a decision to Allan Nascimento in his UFC debut. Undaunted, “White Kong” went on to score back-to-back finishes of Carlos Candelario and Malcolm Gordon, the latter of which earned him “Performance of the Night.”
Eight of his 10 wins have come inside the distance, five of those by submission.
Durden is an easy man to underestimate thanks to some rough early UFC performances, but he seems to have really found his stride. His wrestling is an absolute nightmare to deal with, especially now that he’s seemingly fixed his cardio issues. Though Hadley has a clear edge on the feet, so did Mota and Johnson, whom Durden racked up more than 20 minutes of combined control time against.
Seeing as Hadley couldn’t stay standing against Nascimento, Durden seems to have just the right skillset to neutralize the more dangerous striker and make it four straight in the Octagon. In the end, heavy top control carry Durden to a visually unspectacular, but successful, short-notice effort.
Prediction: Durden via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Ode Osbourne vs. Assu Almabaev
Ode Osbourne (12-5) failed to capitalize on his post-Contender Series momentum, losing two of his first three Octagon bouts by first-round stoppage. He now sits at 3-1 in his last four, most recently upsetting Charles Johnson in Feb. 2023.
“The Jamaican Sensation” has submitted nine professional opponents and knocked out three others.
Kazakhstan’s Assu Almabaev (17-2) stands unbeaten since a 4-2 professional start. His streak includes successful stints in top promotions like ACB, Fight Nights Global, and Brave CF, plus a title run in M-1 Global.
He stands two inches shorter than Osbourne at 5’5.”
To be honest, Osbourne hasn’t lived up to my expectations in the Octagon. He scored a couple of explosive finishes over UFC washouts, but his wrestling and power punching just haven’t cohered into a consistently effective whole.
That said, Almabaev’s striking remains terribly underdeveloped and his wrestling failed to shine against Zach Makovsky, suggesting that Osbourne can keep him at bay with strikes and shut down his takedowns. I’m prepared for disappointment, but I like Osbourne to land enough heavy shots and neutralize enough takedowns to eke out the win.
Prediction: Osbourne via split decision
Three more UFC Nashville “Prelims” bouts remain to preview and predict, including the long-awaited return of Kyler Phillips. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Nashville fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN/ESPN+) at 9 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Nashville: “Sandhagen vs. Font” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.