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Random Land! 18 tidbits, facts and storylines | UFC 290

After a brief stop at UFC Apex for UFC Vegas 76, we can finally say International Fight Week 2023 has finally arrived. UFC 290 goes down this Saturday (July 8, 2023) from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the promotion has assembled an entertaining pay-per-view (PPV) card headlined by two title fights. In UFC 290’s main event, Featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, battles interim 145-pound kingpin, Yair Rodriguez. In the co-feature, Flyweight roost-ruler, Brandon Moreno, looks to exact revenge on long-time nemesis, Alexandre Pantoja.

So, before the biggest fight card of the year (so far) goes down tomorrow in “Sin City,” let’s check out some random storylines, tidbits and statistics ahead of showtime ...

LIVE! Watch UFC 293 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

MASSIVE MIDDLEWEIGHT MATCH! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) makes its highly anticipated return to Sydney, Australia, for the first time in five years on Sat., Sept. 9, 2023, with a 185-pound world title fight inside Qudos Bank Arena. In the ESPN+-streamed pay-per-view (PPV) main event, Middleweight roost-ruler, Israel Adesanya, plans to silence No. 5-seeded contender, Sean Strickland. In UFC 293’s hard-hitting Heavyweight co-main event, No-6-ranked fan favorite, Tai Tuivasa, locks horns with towering Russian, Alexander Volkov (No. 8).

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

International Fight Week FTW!

UFC 290 will mark Volkanovski’s third straight International Fight Week. In his first effort at UFC 266 in 2021, he headlined against Brian Ortega (it was also his first UFC main event). His next appearance was last year against Max Holloway at UFC 276 (watch highlights). Finally, UFC 290 will be his third crack at the summer mixed martial arts (MMA) staple, and will try to unify the Featherweight belts.

Home Again

Volkanovski is returning to his division after moving up to try and become a “champ-champ.” He was unsuccessful at UFC 284 when he lost a close unanimous decision to Islam Makhachev, but the fight ended up being one the best thus far in 2023.

Undisputed Chance

Rodriguez is currently the Interim Featherweight champion, and ever since he won the belt by submitting Josh Emmett at UFC 284 (watch highlights), fight fans have discounted him as a real champion. While yes, his championship belt is not the undisputed championship, it is still a championship that holds weight regardless. On Saturday, Rodriguez can unify his title and become the third undisputed Mexican UFC champion behind Alexa Grasso and Moreno.

Another Trilogy For ‘The Assassin Baby’

Moreno is finally done with his rivalry with Deiveson Figueiredo, a rare quadrilogy that ended unceremoniously. Moreno isn’t getting a brand-new challenger, though, he is fighting someone who he has a history with ... someone who has defeated him twice. The Mexican champion first lost to Pantoja on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 24 via quick submission. While technically it was an “exhibition,” it still is a loss in many eyes. The pair of talented Flyweights then ran it back two years later in 2018, with Pantoja winning again (via unanimous decision). Later that year, Moreno was actually cut from UFC’s roster.

Pantoja Waited And Waited And Waited

Most feel as though Pantoja should have already competed for the Flyweight championship, but unfortunately, there was a quadrilogy going on. If all was right in the wild UFC world, the Brazilian would have fought Moreno after he tapped Brandon Royval at UFC Vegas 34 (watch highlights) — Moreno even agreed to fight him after the win. Instead, “The Cannibal” risked his title shot to demolish Alex Perez in less than two minutes. Sometimes, when UFC fighters wait for their deserved title shots, it backfires, but for Pantoja, it worked.

Winner Gets Izzy?

The 185-pound showdown between Robert Whittaker vs. Dricus Du Plessis has a lot on the line. The winner will become the Middleweight division’s No. 1 contender and likely fight Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 in September.

Well ... that’s what the narrative is.

If Whittaker wins, it is highly doubtful that he will turn around and fights two months later in what could be his final title opportunity. If Du Plessis wins, it is much more likely he will turn around and fight Adesanya.

Du Plessis Version 2.0: Fixed Nose

Du Plessis has claimed he has been unable to breathe out of his nose for his entire UFC career thus far, leading him to breathe out of his mouth and gas during his fights. That should no longer be an issue because he had nasal surgery after his last fight against Derek Brunson and can now breathe properly.

Jalin Turner Vs. Oceania

“The Tarantula” is undefeated against fighters from Australia or New Zealand?

His first victim was Callan Potter at UFC 234 in Melbourne, Australia — he finished him in 53 seconds. One year later, he finished Joshua Culibao via technical knockout in New Zealand. Two years later, at UFC 272 in Las Vegas, Turner knocked out Australia’s Jamie Mullarkey in the second round (watch highlights). And last year during International Fight Week, Turner picked up the biggest of his career, submitting Brad Riddell in just 45 seconds (watch highlights).

At 4-0 against the Kiwi and Aussies, Turner looks to continue his destruction path against Dan Hooker at UFC 290.

Thank You For The Memories, Robbie

UFC legend, Robbie Lawler, plans to retire after UFC 290 after a very long 22-year career. The 41-year-old is a former UFC Welterweight champion, EliteXC Middleweight champion and has competed in three “Fight of the Year”-worthy brawls (Johnny Hendricks, Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit).

He faces Niko Price.

Robbie On The Prelims????

Lawler will be on featured on the “Prelims” undercard for the first time since his Octagon debut in 2002.

Welcome To UFC!

Four fighters are making their Octagon debuts this weekend at UFC 290 ... and they are all on short notice.

  • Valentine Woodburn (7-0) fights Bo Nickal on less than one week’s notice. Woodburn was scheduled to fight on Contender Series later this summer.
  • Josiah Harrell (7-0) takes on Jack Della Maddalena, replacing Sean Brady.
  • Edgar Chairez fights Tatsuro Taira (13-0), replacing Kleydson Rodrigues.
  • Terrence Mitchell (15-2) takes on Cameron Saaiman, replacing Christian Rodriguez.

Viral Moments

Two of the fighters competing this week have had viral moments this year:

First up, Harrell turned heads when he crashed through LFA’s cage door:

The next viral moment featured Chairez, who was on the right side of one of the worst referee stoppages of all time:

LHW Rematch

Alonzo Menifield and Jimmy Crute run it back this weekend after they fought to a draw at UFC 284 earlier this year. It was a fun fight, but who really wants to watch it again?

Mexico And AUSNZ Invasion

Five Mexicans and five Australians (one New Zealand fighter, Hooker) compete this weekend at UFC 290.

Mexico: Rodriguez, Moreno, Yazmin Jauregui, Chairez, Jesus Santos Aguilar
AUSNZ: Volkanovski, Whittaker, Hooker, Maddalena, Crute, Shannon Ross

Undefeated Mania!

Seven fighters on UFC 290 will put their undefeated records on the line: Nickal (4-0), Woodburn (7-0), Harrell (7-0), Jauregui (10-0), Taira (13-0), Vitor Petrino (8-0) and Cameron Saaiman (8-0).

Taira’s First UFC Crowd

Several UFC fighters have yet to fight in a sold-out arena and have only competed inside UFC’s Apex facility. And highly-touted Flyweight, Tatsuro Taira, is one of them. He doesn’t need to worry about that any longer as he locks horns with Chairez at UFC 290 and will finally get the real UFC experience. Taira is undefeated (3-0) in UFC and has finished his last two fights.

He was scheduled to fight at UFC Jacksonville a few weeks ago until the last-minute.

Winners And Losers

Nineteen fighters are coming off wins, while seven fighters are coming off losses. Two are coming off draws.


Here are the divisions that will be on display this Saturday:

  • Two Light Heavyweight fights
  • Two Middleweight fights
  • Two Welterweight fights
  • Two Lightweight fights
  • One Featherweight fight
  • One Bantamweight fights
  • Two Flyweight fights
  • One women’s Strawweight fight
  • One Catchweight fight (Taira vs. Chairez)

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 290 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN/ESPN+/ABC at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 290: “Volkanovski vs. Rodriguez” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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