FansBet MMA expert Ryan O’Leary previews the upcoming UFC Fight Night: Velasquez versus Ngannou card going down in Phoenix, Arizona in a rare Sunday card. The event is headlined by a massive heavyweight matchup as hard-hitting Francis Ngannou welcomes former UFC champion Cain Velasquez back to the UFC’s Octagon after 2.5 years away.
Let’s take a closer look at the 13 fights going down at the Talking Stick Resort Arena.
UFC Velasquez v Ngannou Early Prelim Card
The Google-worthy Aleksandra Albu (3-0-0) from Russia will face Emily Whitmire from the United States (3-2-0) in the strawweight division. Albu seems more of a fitness model than fighter, and she has only been in the cage twice since her debut in 2013 but the power fighter still comes in as a slight favorite to start the card. American Luke Sanders (12-3-0) will face former champion Renan Barão (34-7-0) in the bantamweight division in a chance to take out one of the best before he calls it a career. Jessica Penne (12-5-0) tries to get back on track against Jodie Esquibel (6-4-0) from the US in the strawweight division.
UFC Velasquez v Ngannou Prelim Card
Scott Holtzman (12-2-0) and Nik Lentz (29-9-2) kick-off the prelim card. Lentz seems like he is more interested in entertaining slug fests than using his wrestling to control fights as he once did. As a slight underdog, Holtzman will have to stay aggressive to get the win here.
Andrea Lee (9-2-0) will face Ashlee Evans-Smith (6-3-0) in the newly established flyweight division to try and get noticed in a division without any clear contenders. “KGB” has been in the news with her husband’s domestic violence allegations, so hopefully it won’t be a distraction.
Undefeated Manny Bermudez (13-0-0) and Benito Lopez (9-0-0) will battle in the bantamweight division with “Bermudez Triangle” going for his third straight submission.
A real high-level matchup is in the middle of the prelim card as Jimmie Rivera (22-2-0) versus Aljamain Sterling (16-3-0) are paired in the bantamweight division. This might just be the fight that the “Funk Master” needs to get in title talk fights if he can stop the favorite Rivera that has won an amazing 21 of his last 22 fights.
UFC Velasquez v Ngannou Main Card
Andre Fili (18-6-0) v Myles Jury (17-3-0)
”Smiling” A solid matchup of Fili and Jury try and breakout of the featherweight pack. Both fighters had had hype at times, but recent disappointments have made this an important fight for each. Jury was TKO’d in his last bout by Fili’s teammate Chad Mendes, and Andre can use pressure to try and do the same.
Bryan Barberena (14-5-0) v Vicente Luque (14-6-1)
Barberena is one of the biggest favorites on the card as he faces the Brazilian in this welterweight matchup. Bryan should be able to get the job done here if he can avoid the power punches of Luque early.
Alex Caceres (14-11-0) v Kron Gracie (4-0-0)
Here is the son of legendary BJJ player Rickson Gracie’s, Kron. He makes his UFC debut at 30-years old against the always entertaining “Bruce Leeroy.” If you want to make a play on an underdog, there is some chance Caceres can use his reach on the outside to outpoint the Brazilian.
Cynthia Calvillo (7-1-0) versus Cortney Casey (8-6-0)
An angry Calvillo is a dangerous Calvillo. Held out due to a suspension, Calvillo is back with vengeance and should take out Casey here once the fight goes to the ground.
James Vick (13-2-0) versus Paul Felder (15-4-0)
This should be a three-round war as both fighters come to throw down on the feet. Vick will try and come out of hiding after getting KO’d in the first round by Justin Gaethje in his last outing. These fighters were supposed to fight before. Felder will have to find his way inside to avoid the long reach of James.
Cain Velasquez (14-2-0) versus Francis N’Gannou (12-3-0)
Former UFC champion Velasquez is finally back, but with only two fights since 2013 there is some question if he will still have the endurance that he showed when he was in discussions as the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time.
The “Predator” from France was seen as the future as he recently rose to a title shot against Stipe Miocic, and even picked to beat the champ by many prior to the bout. In his first 12 fights, he had never seen the 3rd round. However, if the power puncher sees the late rounds versus the American wrestler, he will be in trouble.
Cain does like to punch before going for take-downs. This will be Francis’s chance to get the win with a deadly combination early. Lots of unknowns in this fight, and I expect it will come down to health and cardio of Velasquez in his long awaited return to the UFC Octagon.
Fansbet are committed to giving 50 per cent of their net profits back to fans. To find out more about how they do it, click here!
And is that is not enough check out our Fan Boosts here. The best odds and an unrivalled range of special bets!
Fansbet, about Fans, by fans, for fans.
*odds subject to change