This Saturday night, the UFC makes its return to PPV with UFC 250 which will be headlined by the greatest female fighter of all time, Amanda Nunes, defending her featherweight title against Canadian challenger, Felicia Spencer. UFC 250 also is an extremely important event for the UFC’s bantamweight division with a number of key matchups that will play a big role in deciding who will take on the winner of the Petr Yan/Jose Aldo title fight this summer. This is a stacked fight card that has intriguing matchups up and down the card. With that in mind, let’s dive into the card and take a look at some of those intriguing matchups.
Amanda Nunes vs Felicia Spencer
The main event of UFC 250 marks the return of champion, Amanda Nunes (19-4), following her victory over Germaine de Randamie at UFC 245. In that fight, Nunes looked a little more vulnerable than she normally does. The challenger was able to land some solid shots on Nunes for the first time in a while, Nunes appeared to be human. Still in a down performance, Nunes was able to unanimously defeat the former featherweight champion in de Randamie. Nunes hasn’t lost in six years and has looked unbeatable outside of her fights with flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko. Nunes is the total package with elite striking ability, incredible power, and a slick ground game. There are no holes in her game. At this stage in her career, it’s hard even finding fights that would be competitive for her. She’s just that much better than all the competition. Felicia Spencer (8-1), is hoping to show the world that she is beatable by pulling off the enormous upset.
You would be hard-pressed to find any girl tougher in the world than Felicia Spencer. Spencer is a bulldog when she fights who doesn’t stop pressing forward even if she is taking some heavy shots. She took everything that former champion, Cris Cyborg, had and just kept coming forward back at UFC 240. That night, Spencer suffered her only career loss. After losing to Cyborg, Spencer bounced back in impressive fashion stopping Zarah Fairn dos Santos in the first round. In that fight, she took some shots on the feet but dominated once the fight got to the campus. Spencer is the type of fighter who doesn’t want to win a pretty fight. She’s not going to dazzle you with her skills, but she looks to run you over with pure toughness and determination. In her training leading up to this fight, it looks like she’s really trying to make strides in her striking game to make her more fluid on the feet. This will be a key factor if she hopes to pull off the upset.
When it comes to this fight, I’m having a hard time seeing how Felicia Spencer can win. This is not a knock on her, but more of a testament to just how good Amanda Nunes is. The Lioness is truly something special to behold, and I don’t believe Spencer has the tools to win this fight. Spencer does not have the fluidity to dodge the shots that Nunes will be throwing on Saturday night. While she was able to evade some of Cyborg’s looping punches, she’s going to really struggle to evade the speed and accuracy that Amanda Nunes will be throwing at her. Spencer’s only chance in this fight is to make it a clinch war early where she can hope to tire the champion. If she can make Amanda tired, she could maybe take it to the ground where she can do what Cat Zingano did to Nunes almost six years ago. However, I think the fans are going to be in for a showcase performance by Amanda Nunes. Spencer is as tough as they come, but she is going to get lit up early and often in this fight. I just think the power and the speed is going to be way too much for Felicia Spencer on Saturday. Spencer is one of the best in the world at 145, but there is a massive gap between the contenders and Amanda Nunes.
Prediction: Amanda Nunes by TKO – Round 1
Cody Garbrandt vs Raphael Assuncao
The co-main event of the evening features the return of former bantamweight champion, Cody Garbrandt (11-3), as he looks to rebound against perennial bantamweight contender, Raphael Assuncao (27-7). Entering 2017, Garbrandt was looked at as the next big star of the UFC. He had just dominated Dominick Cruz to win the bantamweight title back at UFC 207, and he was extremely entertaining to watch. Garbrandt had seven first-round finishes in his first eleven fights which is almost unheard of for guys in the lower weight classes. Garbrandt had a speed/power combination that made him a handful. His stardom was starting to take off when he coached the Ultimate Fighter alongside ex-teammate, TJ Dillashaw. The two’s feud made the show a hit, and a lot of people were tuned into UFC 217 specifically to watch those two go at it. Garbrandt looked incredibly sharp early and almost finished the fight in the first round. Since that round, Garbrandt has not been the same fighter. Garbrandt got knocked out in the second round by Dillashaw. Following the loss, Garbrandt had trouble staying healthy but was able to get a rematch the next year. This time, Dillashaw knocked out Garbrandt in the first round. Then Garbrandt would go on to get knocked out in the first round by contender, Pedro Munhoz at UFC 235 last year. This is a make it or break it fight for “No Love”. He needs a big win here to get himself back on the right path and stop this horrendous skid that he’s currently on.
Standing across from Garbrandt will be contender, Raphael Assuncao. Since joining the UFC, Assuncao has quietly put together one of the better careers for someone who has never fought for the title. He’s 11-3 in the UFC and holds wins over TJ Dillashaw, Marlon Moraes, Aljamain Sterling, and Pedro Munhoz. You would think with all of those wins over the top guys in the world the guy would have fought for the title. The problem for Assuncao has been the title eliminator fights. At UFC 200, he lost to TJ Dillashaw in a fight that would have likely given him a title shot had he won. After that, Assuncao rattled off four consecutive wins and he found himself again on the cusp of a title shot only to lose to Marlon Moraes who he had just defeated 18 months prior. For the first time in his career, Assuncao has lost two fights in a row coming into UFC 250. This fight is massive for both guys who are at the top of the division, but both are coming into Saturday on multiple fight losing streaks.
I’ve gone back and forth with this fight on what I think is going to happen. Who wins will honestly come down to one man and that man is Cody Garbrandt. If we can see 2016 Cody Garbrandt, I think he is going to win impressively. His back is against the wall, and I believe that he still has plenty in the tank. Garbrandt is splitting this camp between Team Alpha Male and Mark Henry’s gym in New Jersey. I think you are going to see a new and improved Garbrandt in this fight. However, he cannot get reckless like he did against Pedro Munhoz. Garbrandt threw caution to the wind after he rocked Munhoz and got himself knocked out. Garbrandt needs to stay patient and pick his shots. If he rushes in recklessly, Assuncao possesses the power to knock him out. I think you are going to see a more mature Cody Garbrandt in this fight, and I think he stops his losing streak by stopping Raphael Assuncao.
Prediction: Cody Garbrandt by TKO – Round 2
Aljamain Sterling vs Cory Sandhagen
In all honesty, this is the fight that I’m most looking forward to on Saturday night. This bantamweight matchup between Aljamain Sterling (18-3) and Cory Sandhagen (12-1) will likely determine who will be facing the winner of the Petr Yan/Jose Aldo fight for the bantamweight title. I was blown away the last time that we saw Sterling in the octagon. Sterling’s striking looked better than ever which just makes him even more dynamic and dangerous. “Funk Master” is such a fitting name when you watch the way he picked apart Pedro Munhoz at UFC 238. Sterling throws from awkward angles yet he seems to find a home for most of his shots. He’s tremendous on the ground and doesn’t mind the fight going there which opens up his kicking game. Coming into this fight, Sterling has won four fights in a row. I believed that he should have been the one fighting for the title against Petr Yan, but the UFC is going for more name recognition in that one. Sterling is riding high and he’s hoping that he can continue that high against Sandhagen.
Cory Sandhagen has looked sensational since he debuted in the UFC back in 2018. Sandhagan made his UFC debut on just eight days’ notice when he stopped Iuri Alcantara in the second round. Since then he’s rattled off three more wins including notable victories over John Lineker and Raphael Assuncao. There are not a lot of weaknesses in Sandhagen’s game. He’s good on the ground and he’s really good on the feet. Sandhagen does a really good job of using his height and reach to control the distance when he strikes. In a fight that is likely going to go the distance, point fighting is going to be very important. Despite being taller by four inches, Sandhagen actually will have a reach disadvantage in this fight, but don’t let that fool you. Sandhagen fights taller than his reach with his frequent use of kicks to all targets from the legs to up top. This is truly a fight where I don’t know what’s going to happen.
It does not get more even than these two. Both guys bring a similar skillset to the octagon, and both guys are riding impressive winning streaks. This is a fight that I would be scared to bet any sort of money on. I’ve gone back and forth the last couple of days, and as I’m writing this, I’m going to lean towards Sterling. Sterling is so close to the title and I think he will fight with urgency. I think this fight is going to go back and forth, but I believe in the end, Sterling will do enough to secure a decision. I do not see either guy getting a finish, and I see the decision being razor close.
Prediction: Aljamain Sterling – Split Decision
Neil Magny vs Anthony Ricco Martin
The second fight on the main card features a welterweight contest between Neil Magny (22-7) and Anthony Rocco Martin (17-5). This is an interesting matchup that I see going one of two ways. Martin is the better fighter on the ground so if he’s able to get the fight to the ground, I can see him either winning by submission or by points. However, Martin does not do a very good job of getting fights to the ground which likely means we will see a standup fight. Magny has fought some of the best guys in the world and possesses a decent standup game. Magny also has a really good gas tank that will allow him to fight at a faster pace which does not favor Martin. Since I see this fight staying up on the feet, I think Magny is going to control this one throughout. Magny is coming off a win back in March after a 16-month layoff. I think Magny is going to get his second consecutive win by staying on the outside and controlling the range, picking apart Martin throughout. I don’t see either man getting a finish unless Martin gets it to the ground, so I’m going to go with Magny here to get his second win of 2020.
Prediction: Neil Magny – Unanimous Decision
Sean O’Malley vs Eddie Wineland
Kicking off the PPV card we will get to watch the Suga Show. “Sugar” Sean O’Malley (11-0) will be taking on veteran and former title challenger, Eddie Wineland (24-13-1). O’Malley has been through the wringer over the last couple of years. The 25-year-old burst onto the scene back in 2017 with an incredible performance on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. O’Malley would then go on to win his first two fights in the UFC. However, failed drug tests kept O’Malley out for two years before his return back in March. O’Malley’s situation was incredibly frustrating because the tests were finding trace amounts of a substance that was likely there due to a tainted supplement. O’Malley was frustrated, but stayed patient and finally got to return at UFC 248. There, O’Malley looked better than ever stopping Jose Alberto Quinonez in the first round. This is a perfect follow-up fight for O’Malley because he is now getting a chance to fight someone with a little name recognition.
Eddie Wineland has been around for a long time and was the first WEC bantamweight champion. Wineland has fought guys like Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez, John Dodson, and Renan Barao. Wineland challenged for the UFC’s bantamweight title against Barao back in 2013. Wineland is about as tough as they come and he’s the kind of guy who is going to come right at O’Malley. The last time we saw Wineland, he stopped Grigory Popov in the second round back at UFC 238. Wineland is no joke, but he also makes for the perfect opponent for the rising UFC star.
This to me is a complete showcase fight for Sugar Sean O’Malley. He’s going to have a big advantage on the feet, and he’s taking on a guy who is going to come right at him. This fight on this stage will give O’Malley another big bump in his popularity if he’s able to impressively win. If you’re trying to build up a star, this is perfect matchmaking. Of course, Wineland is extremely tough and has a punchers chance, but I can’t see him beating O’Malley. I think O’Malley is going to pick him apart from the outside before catching Wineland with something big as he comes in. This fight is a stepping stone fight for O’Malley and I don’t believe he’s going to disappoint.
Prediction: Sean O’Malley by TKO – Round 1
Prelim’s to Watch
The entire card is really good for Saturday night. The prelims are filled with several intriguing matchups and fighters to pay attention to. I’m anxious to watch the featured prelim between Chase Hooper (9-0-1) and Alex Caceres (15-12). Hooper is another guy who could develop into a star for the UFC. The 20-year-old possesses some of the best ground skills in the UFC, and it will be interesting seeing him go up against a veteran like “Bruce Leeroy”. In addition to that, you have guys like Ian Heinisch, Cody Stamann, and Alex Perez all fighting on the prelims. I’m also very interested in seeing the undefeated Alonzo Menifield who is coming into UFC 250 with four consecutive first round finishes. The very first fight of the evening features Herbert Burns (10-2) and veteran, Evan Dunham (18-8-1). This is a fun fight and I’m interested to see more of Burns who is coming off of a sensational victory in his first UFC fight back in January. Burns is the brother of UFC welterweight contender, Gilbert Burns. Overall, the card is incredibly stacked with fun fights from start to finish. I’ll be excited to tune in on Saturday night for another night of incredible fights.