UFC books Alexander Gustafsson – Paul Craig

Alexander Gustafsson, UFC

The UFC has finalized a big time contest in the light heavyweight division. First reported by Front Kick, the promotion has finalized a light heavyweight contest between former title challenger Alexander Gustafsson (18-7) and Paul Craig (15-4-1).

The matchup will take place at a UFC Fight Night on September 4th. That Fight Night is currently scheduled to take place in London which will be the UFC‘s first trip to Europe since the pandemic.

Paul Craig will be looking to keep the momentum going when he takes on the former title challenger in September. Craig last fought a few weeks ago at UFC 263 when he took on the surging prospect Jamahal Hill.

Before the fight, Craig said that he wanted to test the jiu jitsu of Hill. In the first round, Craig pulled guard and immediately started attacking submissions. Eventually he locked in an armbar and dislocated the elbow of Jamahal Hill.

Due to the referee’s incompetence, the fight was stopped by TKO instead of submission. That win at UFC 263 was the third straight win for Craig who now ranks 12th in the light heavyweight division. Another statement win in September will likely move him into the top ten.

UFC Redemption for The Mauler

If there’s anyone that needs a little UFC redemption, it’s Alexander Gustafsson. Gustafsson will be making his first appearance since last July when he moved up to heavyweight to fight former UFC champion Fabricio Werdum.

Werdum was able to take Gustafsson down and submit him in the first round. It was the third straight loss for Gustafsson. The Swede has not been very active over the last few years. Dating back to 2016, Gustafsson has been fighting on average once a year.

In 2016 and 2017, Gustafsson picked up wins over Glover Teixeira and Jan Blachowicz. Those two men are fighting at UFC 267 for the light heavyweight title. After those two wins, Gustafsson got a shot against Jon Jones and lost by TKO.

Then he lost to Anthony Smith before fighting Werdum last year. Gustafsson is returning to the UFC’s light heavyweight division and he needs a win in the worst way. If he can defeat Craig, he will be right back in the top ten of the light heavyweight division. However, if he loses, it could be the end of Gustafsson’s run in the UFC.

UFC: What’s next for Fabricio Werdum?

Last night, Fabricio Werdum (24-9-1) turned back the clock at UFC Fight Island 3. Many (including myself) were doubting the former heavyweight champion ahead of his fight with Alexander Gustafsson.

Werdum returned back in May and looked horrendous against Alexey Oleynik. Werdum was on the final fight of his UFC contract, and he fought like a man with something to prove last night.

UFC or Bellator?

Werdum was able to get Gustafsson’s back early and submit him with an arm bar. A huge win for Werdum who will now enter MMA free agency.

The former UFC champion has recently indicated that he would be walking away from the promotion after last night. Werdum’s legacy is secure inside the UFC after he defeated Cain Velasquez for the heavyweight title at UFC 188.

The logical career move for Werdum would be to go to Bellator MMA. There is no path forward for Werdum inside the UFC‘s heavyweight division. However, Bellator would welcome him right to the top of the division.

Bellator’s heavyweight division lacks star power, Werdum is still a big name. Assuming Werdum makes the jump to Bellator, I wouldn’t be shocked if they gave him the heavyweight champion, Ryan Bader, in his first fight.

Bellator usually likes to push the UFC vets they sign immediately due to the drawing power. Especially former UFC champions that sign with the promotion. No matter what, Werdum can walk away from the promotion with his head held high after last night’s performance.

UFC Fight Island 3 Recap: Robert Whittaker squeaks by Darren Till in entertaining scrap

The UFC hosted their fourth and final fight card from Fight Island tonight. In the main event of the evening, middleweights Robert Whittaker (20-5) and Darren Till (18-2-1) went head-to-head. The card was filled with action from start to finish.

Whittaker takes first step back to UFC gold

The main event of the evening was going to likely determine who would face the winner of the Israel Adesanya – Paulo Costa UFC title fight in September. Former champion Robert Whittaker took on Darren “The Gorilla” Till.

As the first round began, Till charged in and was met with a sharp shot from Whittaker. Whittaker also landed a stiff jab after that. Till seemed extremely aggressive early on. Both men charged at each other and Whittaker was floored by a clean elbow from Till.

Till started finding a home for his crisp left hand after he hurt Whittaker. Whittaker began reaching with his shots which is what hurt him in the Adesanya fight. Till pressed Whittaker back late in the first continuing to land shots.

Whittaker’s confidence seemed to be shaken a bit in the first. However, late in the round, Whittaker seemed to get his legs back and get more comfortable in the exchanges. Great opening round for Till.

Both men came out very light on their feet to start the second round. Whittaker landed a massive left hook as Till was off balanced. Whittaker seemed much fresher and confident early in the second.

Bobby Knuckles stormed forward with an overhand right that floored Till about a minute into the round. Bobby Knuckles landed some good elbows from top position. Till looked to be trying to regain his composure from the bottom.

Till was able to get back to his feet with about two minutes left in the round. Whittaker started peppering Till’s lead leg with solid kicks. Till seemed tentative still trying to regain some confidence. Dominant second round for the former UFC champ.

Both men touched gloves to start the third round, and then Whittaker landed another big leg kick. The two seemed to be a little more patient. Till kept looking for the left while Whittaker kept looking to blitz.

Neither man was landing anything clean for the majority of the third round. They would throw big shots from distance, but neither were connecting. An uneventful round, but I lean Whittaker in the third.

Entering the main event rounds, Whittaker seemed to have a little more bounce in his step. Till was able to step in with a big left hand early on. Whittaker continued to throw big calf kicks which seemed to be bothering Till.

Till landed a few big shots which seemed to wobble Whittaker momentarily. However, Whittaker seemed to get his legs back underneath him very quickly. The two men resumed trying to read each other after the big exchange.

Till began finding his left more in the fourth round. Whittaker tried for a couple of takedowns late in the round, but wasn’t able to land either. A close round four, but I lean Till due to the bigger shots.

Both men seemed to have good bounce to start the fifth. Till landed a big shot in the first exchange. Whittaker again tried for a takedown, but was unsuccessful. Till looked very aggressive to start the fifth round.

Till landed a solid 1-2 at the two minute mark in the round. Whittaker continued to look for calf kicks throughout the round. Whittaker looked for another takedown, but again, it was unsuccessful. Till landed another crisp left after Whittaker shot.

Till landed a massive elbow with about a minute left in the round which opened a massive gash on Whittaker. Whittaker was able to land a couple of takedowns late, but Till continued to bounce right back up. Close round, but I give Till the final round due to damage.

A razor close fight, but I lean Till 48-47. After the close fight, the judges were unanimous giving the fight to Whittaker (48-47, 48-47, 48-47).

Shogun completes the sweep against Little Nog

The co-main event of the evening featured a battle of Brazilian legends as former UFC light heavyweight champion Shogun Rua (27-11-1) took on Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (23-10) for the third time.

As the first round began, both men tentatively took the center just feeling the other out. Nogueira circled the outside as Shogun started to pepper Nogueira’s leg with kicks. Shogun pressed forward to engage a clinch about two minutes into the round.

After little action, Shogun backed away with about half of the round remaining. Nogueira landed a massive left as the two began to strike. Both men really began to open up about four minutes into the round.

Nogueira began to press forward after he sensed that he was getting the better of the exchanges. Nogueira landed three massive lefts that wobbled Shogun. Shogun shot in and secured a late takedown before the bell. Close round that I gave to Nogueira.

Shogun opened the second round very aggressive pushing forward. Shogun landed a couple of big kicks to open the round. Nogueira seemed very patient looking to land his left hand. Everytime the former UFC champion stormed in, Nogueira was looking to counter with a left.

Nogueira stormed forward with big shots which forced another shot from Shogun. Shogun slipped which allowed Nogueira to end up on the top. Shogun was able to get back to his feet with two minutes left in the round.

Nogueira was getting clipped a little more in this round compared to the first. Shogun was doing a good job of slipping and countering the aggressive Nogueira attacks. A close round two, but due to the top control, I lean Nogueira.

The final round started with Shogun moving forward. Shogun landed a massive leg kick that buckled Nogueira early in the third. Neither man landed anything significant after that until about the halfway mark.

Shogun landed a big body kick and continued to stalk Nogueira. After that kick, the two men began to trade big shots. Shogun was able to land a couple of really good straight shots that backed Nogueira against the cage. He transitioned that into a takedown.

Shogun controlled the remainder of the round from the top position. To me, the clearest round to score of the fight. I gave the final round to Shogun but the fight to Nogueira 29-28. The judges were split but gave the fight to Shogun (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).

Werdum subs Gustafsson early in the first

The fifth fight of the main card featured the heavyweight debut of Alexander Gustafsson (18-7). In his debut he was taking on former UFC heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum (24-9-1).

Gustafsson started the first round very light on his feet. Werdum landed a massive leg kick in the opening seconds which Gus acknowledged. Gustafsson landed a good combination, but Werdum shot in for the takedown.

After initially missing on it, Werdum tripped Gustafsson and got his back immediately. Werdum tried for the rear-naked choke, but Werdum immediately transitioned to an arm bar. The ground wizard got Gustafsson to tap very early in the first. Very impressive from the former heavyweight champion.

Carla Esparza edges Marina Rodriguez

The fourth fight of the main card featured a strawweight contest between former UFC champ, Carla Esparza (16-6) and Marina Rodriguez (12-0-2). A win for either lady would get them close to a shot at the strawweight title.

To start the first round, Rodriguez was really heavy on her front leg expecting a shot from Esparza. After Rodriguez through a couple of big shots, Esparza shot in for a takedown and secured it.

Esparza had really heavy top control in the first. She did a very good job of picking and choosing spots to posture up and land good shots. Rodriguez did land a massive elbow from the bottom which cut Esparza.

Esparza made the odd decision to try to go for an ankle lock which resulted in her being on the bottom. Rodriguez landed some good shots before Esparza got back to her feet. Rodriguez landed some good shots before Esparza shot in for another takedown at the end of the first. Close round that I’d give to Rodriguez due to the damage.

As the second round started, Rodriguez appeared to be stalking Esparza. She didn’t look comfortable at all on the feet. Esparza shot in for a takedown two minutes into the round, and she was able to get Rodriguez down.

Esparza was able to land some pretty good shots from the ground after the takedown. Just like she did in the first, Esparza went for another bizarre leg lock. It resulted in her just taking massive shots from Rodriguez. Close round due to a massive flurry at the end, but I lean Esparza.

The final round started with Rodriguez continuing to stalk Esparza. Esparza tried for some sloppy shots early as Rodriguez landed some decent shots. About halfway through the round, Esparza was able to land a takedown.

The rest of the round consisted of solid top control for Esparza. Esparza landed some decent shots, but Rodriguez did really nothing in the final round. She was able to get up for a second before being taken right back down.

Nothing desirable in this fight, but I lean Esparza 29-28. The judges gave Esparza the fight by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27).

Craig triangles Antigulov in the first

The third fight of the evening featured a UFC light heavyweight contest between Paul Craig (12-4-1) and Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-6).

Craig immediately ran across the octagon to meet Antigulov. About thirty seconds into the round, Antigulov was able to secure a takedown. Craig tried to secure a guillotine, but he was unsuccessful.

However, about a minute later, Craig through up a triangle choke. Antigulov threw some bombs to try to get out of it, but he was in massive trouble. After Antigulov fought hard for a few seconds, Craig locked in the choke deeper.

Craig was able to secure the tap from Antigulov and get the win via triangle choke. Antigulov fought hard, but Craig was too much from that position. Great win for the Scottish fighter.

Oliveira kicks his way past Peter Sobotta

The second fight of the main card featured “Cowboy” Alex Oliveira (21-8-1, 2 NC) taking on German standout, Peter Sobotta (17-6-1).

Both men immediately took the center of the octagon looking to strike. Oliveira landed a massive body kick to start the striking. Sobotta answered with a big kick of his own about a minute into the round.

Oliveira hurt Sobotta bad with a front kick right to the liver about two minutes into the round. Sobotta was able to land a few shots to keep Oliveira off of him. Both men had some decent exchanges late in the round.

Sobotta appeared to have injured his arm blocking a kick late in the round. Decent first round that goes to Oliveira.

As the second round started, Sobotta shot in for a takedown. Oliveira was able to defend the takedown, but it appeared that Sobotta was switching up his strategy. Oliveira was able to land some elbows in the clinch which cut Sobotta.

The two men separated and Oliveira immediately landed a big body kick. Oliveira was looking extremely crisp on the feet. About halfway through the round one of Oliveira’s kicks went low which caused a break in the action.

Once the action resumed, Oliveira continued to look to land kicks. In the final minute, Oliveira extended his hands which poked Sobotta in the eye which caused another break. After they continued the fight, Oliveira landed a massive right hand that floored Sobotta at the end of the first. 2-0 for Oliveira after two rounds.

As the final round started, Oliveira continued to look aggressive in the striking. Sobotta shot in for another takedown, but he wasn’t able to get Oliveira down. About halfway through the round, Oliveira hurt Sobotta again with a body kick.

Sobotta just seemed extremely uncomfortable in the striking exchanges. He would throw shots, but he was throwing from Oliveira’s range. Oliveira continued to land some decent kicks as the final round came to a close.

Great performance for Oliveira who takes it 30-27 on my scorecard. The judges agreed unanimously giving the fight to Cowboy Oliveira (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

Khamzat Chimaev wins second UFC fight in 10 days

The opening fight of the main card featured dominant wrestling sensation Khamzat Chimaev (8-0) taking on UFC newcomer, Rhys McKee (10-3-1). Chimaev was looking for his second win on Fight Island.

Within five seconds of the first round, Chimaev immediately shot in for a takedown. Chimaev carried McKee over to his own corner to clearly hear instructions from his corner. Chimaev was able to get the mount position within 20 seconds of having top position.

McKee kept trying to explode out of the position, but Chimaev’s top control was incredibly impressive. Chimaev was just relentless with his ground and pound. With two minutes left in the round, the striking numbers were 43-0 for Chimaev.

Chimaev postured up and started raining down monster shots. The referee mercifully stopped the fight at 3:09 of the first round. There is no question that Chimaev will be a top contender in the welterweight division before long.

UFC Fight Island 3 Final Takeaways

The UFC closed it’s first stint on Fight Island this evening. Bobby Knuckles closes out Fight Island with a big win over Darren Till. Whittaker will now likely be next in line for a shot at the middleweight crown.

The last month has been filled with exciting fights and incredible story lines. Now, the UFC will come back stateside with a massive schedule in August.

UFC Fight Island 3 Preview: Whittaker and Till look to cement top contender status

The UFC will be hosting it’s last event on Fight Island in the month of July tomorrow night on Yas Island. The main event features former UFC middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker (20-5), and former title challenger, Darren Till (18-2-1).

The UFC has put forward a card that ties the record for the most fights on a single card with 15. The main card that kicks off at 8:00 ET features seven fights.

For this fight card, we are going to break down the top four fights of the evening. The UFC is leaving Fight Island with a bang.

Whittaker and Till battle for the next UFC title shot

The main event of the evening will likely determine who will get the winner of the Israel Adesanya – Paulo Costa fight as Robert Whittaker takes on Darren Till.

Whittaker could not have drawn up a better start to his middleweight career after leaving the UFC‘s welterweight division. Whittaker moved up and promptly went 9-0 capturing the middleweight title.

Bobby Knuckles combines elite striking and speed with incredible toughness and determination. He is susceptible to getting rocked but one of his trademarks is his heart to fight through it.

He was able to fight through it against Yoel Romero, but it finally caught up to him against Adesanya. Stylebender was able to finish Whittaker in the second round of their fight.

This is a massive fight for Whittaker as he looks to try to climb back towards the UFC middleweight title.

Darren Till was being built up as the next superstar just a couple of years ago. The UFC fast-tracked him to a title shot against Tyron Woodley.

That shot came back at UFC 228. The English born Till was actually the massive fan favorite at the Dallas event. However, Woodley put an end to the run with a second round submission victory.

Immediately following that loss, Till was knocked out by Jorge Masvidal prompting his move to the middleweight division.

Till made his UFC middleweight debut against Kelvin Gastelum back in November. In a fight that left a lot to be desired, Till walked away with a decision victory.

Till’s elite Muy Thai skills have brought him to the dance. He has a great way of closing distance very quickly and he’s got power that catches people off guard.

I’m expecting this fight to be contested on the feet, but I’m not sure it’s going to be as action packed as some want. I think this fight will start slow, but will pick up in the middle rounds.

Once they really get going, I think Bobby Knuckles is going to catch Till was something big. I expect Till to have big moments because he is an elite striker, but I think Whittaker is just on a higher level overall as a fighter.

Prediction: Robert Whittaker by TKO – Round 4

Shogun Rua vs Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

The co-main event of the evening features a contest between two legends of the sport from Brazil as Shogun Rua (26-11-1) takes on Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (23-9).

Nogueira enters this fight just after turning 44-years old. We haven’t seen Nogueira since UFC 237 where he was knocked out by Ryan Spann. Nogueira has been dealing with a nagging back injury.

Nogueira throughout his career has been known for his crisp boxing and his elite skills on the ground. He has very good pop in his shots, and is deceptively accurate with his strikes.

The problem is that we really don’t know what kind of Nogueira we are going to see. He didn’t look great in his last fight, and he’s been dealing with back issues. Combine that with his age and there are a ton of question marks.

Shogun Rua has fought just six times in the last five years. However, he has gone 4-1-1 in those six fights with wins over Corey Anderson and Nogueira.

Shogun is a former UFC light heavyweight champion who is also nearing the end of his career. He has been known in his career for his solid overall game and his spurts that often catch fighters off guard.

Shogun has made a career on rocking or finishing opponents with sudden spurts that fighters are not ready for. In his last contest, Shogun fought to a draw with Paul Craig.

These two men have fought each other twice, and Shogun has won both. With all of the question marks surrounding Nogueira, I don’t see how the result will change in this third fight.

Prediction: Shogun Rua by TKO – Round 2

Alexander Gustaffson vs Fabricio Werdum

The fifth fight on the main card features former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (23-9-1) welcoming Alexander Gustaffson (18-6) to the heavyweight division.

Just a few years ago, people were making the argument that Werdum was the greatest heavyweight in history. Those talks of course coming after wins over guys like Fedor Emelianenko and Cain Velasquez.

Of course, Werdum would go on to be knocked out and lose his heavyweight title to Stipe Miocic which halted those talks. Since that loss, Werdum has gone 3-3.

Werdum showed off improved striking a few years ago to go with his world class ground game. Werdum might be the best Jiu Jitsu practitioner in heavyweight history. However, Werdum looked horrendous in his last fight where he lost to Alexey Oleynik.

Alexander Gustaffson will be making his heavyweight debut tomorrow night. Gustaffson retired just over a year ago after he lost to Anthony Smith in Sweden.

Of course that retirement was short-lived. Gustaffson is one of the better fighters over the last few years who hasn’t won a UFC title. He’s fought for the title three times, coming up short each time. Two of those fights were razor close.

Gustaffson has built his career on his elite boxing skills, good footwork, and solid takedown defense. All of these are going to give him an advantage tomorrow night.

For Werdum to win this fight, he’s going to have to get the fight to the ground. There is no way that Werdum can win a stand up fight with Alexander Gustaffson. Werdum looked slow in his last fight, and he doesn’t have great takedowns.

I believe that for those reasons, the fight is going to stay on the feet. I fully expect Gustaffson to light Werdum up in this contest. Not 100% convinced he’s going to get a finish, but I don’t see this fight being close.

Prediction: Alexander Gustaffson by TKO – Round 3

Marina Rodriguez vs Carla Esparza

The fourth fight on the main card features a matchup between two top ten UFC strawweights in Carla Esparza (16-6) and Marina Rodriguez (12-0-2).

Esparza burst onto the UFC scene back in 2014 when she became the promotions first strawweight champion. Since winning the title, Esparza has gone 6-4 in the UFC.

The good news for Esparza is the fact that she’s on a three fight winning streak. Esparza has some of the best wrestling in the division. She has decent striking, but it’s mainly used as a way to setup her dynamic wrestling attack.

Marina Rodriguez is one of the brighter prospects in the strawweight division. While she’s actually older than Esparza, many consider her to be more of a prospect given her experience.

She’s fought four times in the UFC to a record of 2-0-2. Her last fight she fought to a draw with Cynthia Calvillo. Rodriguez has really good striking and good pop for the division.

She also does a really good job at striking at a high volume. Her cardio does hinder her later in fights and her wrestling defense is not great which could hurt her in this matchup.

The first round is going to decide the fight for me. If Esparza can come right out and take Rodriguez down, she’s going to march to a decision victory. However, if Rodriguez can keep it standing for a while, I can’t see her getting beat by Esparza.

This fight is going to be very close. I believe that Esparza will win the third round, but I think Rodriguez’s striking will also gain her a round. This is going to be a split decision that I think will go to Rodriguez with her high striking output.

Prediction: Marina Rodriguez by Split Decision

UFC Fight Island 3 Outlook

The UFC is leaving Fight Island with a massive card. The card has former champions and top contenders up and down the card. A record 15 fights will have fight fans glued to their TVs tomorrow night.

UFC: Alexander Gustafsson says he previously broke Werdum’s nose in sparring

Alexander Gustafsson, UFC

The UFC will be hosting it’s final card of July from Fight Island this Saturday night. One of the fights that’s got people talking is the heavyweight clash between Alexander Gustafsson (18-6) and Fabricio Werdum (23-9-1).

Ahead of Saturday night, the former training partners’ history has come up. Recently, Gustafsson stated that he hurt Werdum really bad in sparring to the point where Werdum wouldn’t spar him again.

The Mauler’s UFC Heavyweight Debut

Gustafsson has long been one of the best fighters in the world at light heavyweight. He’s climbed to a title shot three times, but has fallen short every time.

After his last fight against Anthony Smith, Gustafsson announced that he would be leaving the sport. However, the retirement was short-lived when it was announced that Gustafsson would be returning as a heavyweight.

In his way is a man he’s familiar with in former UFC heavyweight champion, Werdum. It’s always interesting when people bring up their old training sessions leading up to a fight.

The Mauler also says that he broke the former UFC heavyweight champion’s nose, but Werdum has denied this claim. Werdum has lost two consecutive fights leading up to this fight on Saturday night.

If Werdum wins on Saturday, he might walk away from the sport given the fact that he will be turning 43 the following week. If Gustafsson wins, he’s got a couple of options in front of him.

Gustafsson could make the decision to go back to light heavyweight for another run at the title. On the other hand, a win on Saturday could start a new journey for Gustafsson at heavyweight.

UFC: Most intriguing and under the radar fights on Fight Island

UFC, Dana White

Next month, the UFC will be taking over Abu Dhabi for four events in just 14 days. The UFC kicks off Fight Island with the best card of the year at UFC 251. That card features three title fights including the headliner between Kamaru Usman (16-1) and Gilbert Burns (19-3) for the welterweight title. All of the cards are absolutely stacked on Fight Island. With that in mind, let’s look at an under the radar fight from each of the first four cards in Abu Dhabi.

UFC 251 – July 11th

The card on July 11th is absolutely sick. Three title fights and a rematch between the top two female strawweights in the world all on the main card. However, there is a light heavyweight matchup that I’m extremely interested in. That would be the matchup between former title challenger, Volkan Oezdemir (17-4), and the Rizin light heavyweight champion, Jiri Prochazka (26-3-1).

While a lot of people might not know him, Prochazka is one of the more exciting signings that the UFC has made in a while. He enters the UFC on a ten-fight winning streak including nine knockouts. He’s finished his last eight opponents including seven in the first round. Oezdemir has won back-to-back fights after losing three in a row. He’s looking to get back to a title shot, and a win might get him there. A win for either one of these men will vault them into the title discussion at 205. Jon Jones’ future in the division is in question. If he continues to fight, he’s likely going to be moving to heavyweight soon. The light heavyweight division could be on the verge of becoming wide open.

UFC on ESPN 13 – July 15th

Just a few days after UFC 251, we get a rare Wednesday night card that will be headlined between Calvin Kattar (21-4) and Dan Ige (14-2). There are a number of great fights including a strawweight matchup between Carla Esparza (16-6) and Marina Rodriguez (12-0-2). However, the one fight that somehow is flying under the radar is the co-main event between Frankie Edgar (23-8-1) and Pedro Munhoz (18-4).

“The Answer” is going to be making his bantamweight debut against one of the best guys in the world. The former lightweight champion is still trying to get back to UFC gold after losing his title years ago. Edgar dropped to featherweight, and had three title shots in his run there. He lost all three which has resulted in him dropping one more time to bantamweight. Edgar was very small at lightweight, small at featherweight, but will finally fit in at 135 pounds. Just like with everything in Edgar’s career, he’s jumping right in with the sharks in his debut.

Prior to his loss to Aljamain Sterling a year ago, Pedro Munhoz was on a roll. He had won three fights in a row including a knockout over former champion, Cody Garbrandt. Munhoz is no easy task for anyone in the division. I’m very curious to see this fight play out on July 15th. I’m putting it on the list today because I’m shocked at how little people are talking about this incredible fight. This fight was initially scheduled to be at UFC 251, but it was bumped a few days to beef up the Wednesday card.

UFC on ESPN 14 – July 18th

On July 18th the UFC will have another fight night that will be headlined by a flyweight title fight. Deiveson Figueiredo (18-1) and Joseph Benavidez (28-6) will have their rematch for the vacant title. They fought back in February, and Figueiredo won the fight by stoppage. However, since he missed weight in the fight, nobody won the title. The UFC decided to run the fight immediately back with the hope that he can make weight this time. Speaking of the flyweight division, there is a fight that most people probably don’t know about that’s really caught my eyes on this card.

I’m very interested in the flyweight contest between top Russian prospect, Askar Askarov (11-0-1) and Alexandre Pantoja (22-4). Russian MMA is on fire right now, and one of the brighter prospects is Askarov. He fought to a draw in his UFC debut against Brandon Moreno, but bounced back with a unanimous decision victory over former title challenger, Tim Elliot. Pantoja is no easy task for the Russian. Pantoja is 6-2 in his UFC career with wins over Brandon Moreno and Wilson Reis. This is a very interesting matchup in the flyweight division. With both guys ranked in the top seven, the winner of this fight could very well be next in line to fight the winner of the main event.

UFC on ESPN 15 – July 25th

The final card of the month is loaded. The main event of the evening is a title eliminator in the middleweight division between former champion, Robert Whittaker (20-5), and Darren Till (18-2-1). While the card is stacked, the one matchup that I’m very curious about is in the heavyweight division. Former heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum (23-9-1), will be taking on Alexander Gustafsson (18-6) in “The Mauler’s” heavyweight debut.

After some trouble with USADA, the former champion made his return back in May. Werdum really didn’t look that great in his return. Maybe you could attribute that to ring-rust after two years off. Werdum will also be getting ready to turn 43-years-old when he fights Gustafsson. Gustafsson surprised many when he retired last June after losing to Anthony Smith at UFC Fight Night 153. Gustafsson was just one fight removed from his loss to Jon Jones. Gustafsson is one of the best fighters to never taste UFC gold. He’s constantly been one of the best guys in the world, but he never has been able to climb the mountain all the way. I’m very curious to see how he looks at heavyweight. If this fight stays on the feet, the speed that Gustafsson has could really showcase well here, if it goes to the ground, I’m not sure how “The Mauler” will hold up.

A July to Remember

As a fight fan, you live for months like July. Four events in just two weeks time. The cards are all stacked from top to bottom. While other major sports in the world are still trying to figure it out, the UFC is churning out one of the more anticipated months in the sports history.

UFC: Alexander Gustafsson moves to heavyweight; Faces former champ Werdum on July 25th

Alexander Gustafsson, UFC

The UFC is putting together quite the card for their event on July 25th, and the card will now feature the return of a famous Swede who is making the jump to heavyweight.

It was announced today that former three-time light heavyweight title challenger, Alexander Gustafsson (18-6), would be coming out of retirement and moving up to heavyweight. Gustafsson is jumping right into the deep end taking on former heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum (23-9-1). The last time we saw “The Mauler” was back in Sweden at UFC Fight Night 153 where he was submitted by Anthony Smith. Gustafsson hung up his gloves after the fight, but has teased that he was interested in returning. Now, Gustafsson is making his return to a new weight class hoping for one more chance to climb the latter and challenge for UFC gold.

The former heavyweight champion, Werdum, came back after a two year layoff to lose a close split decision to Alexey Oleynik back at UFC 249 in early May. Werdum was not happy with the performance and he is looking to get right back in the saddle against Gustafsson. A win for either man will be a huge step in the right direction. Both men come into this fight on two fight losing streaks, but both of them come in with championship experience.

Big July Shaping Up

The UFC is putting together an insane card for July 25th. The card is being headlined by a likely title eliminator at middleweight featuring former champion, Robert Whittaker (20-5) and Darren Till (18-2). Till made his middleweight debut by defeated Kelvin Gastelum back at UFC 244. Whittaker looks to get back on the winning side of things after losing his title to champion, Israel Adesanya, at UFC 243.

Dana White also came out and said that the trilogy fight between Shogun Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira will be on that card. The UFC is gearing up for a big-time month of July, and fight fans should be getting excited for it. There are some good cards coming this month, but next month the UFC is taking things up a notch. Expect more big fights be announced very soon.