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Our questions about UFC Fight Night Charlotte

UFC Fight Night Charlotte

After last weekend’s thrilling UFC 220 show in Boston, we get a show on Fox that has no one excited except for the fighters’ families and themselves.

Friends, Paul Fontaine, Ryan Frederick and I do our best in previewing Saturday’s UFC Fight Night in Charlotte, NC.

First, The Card

  • Jacare Souza vs. Derek Brunson II
  • Dennis Bermudez vs. Andre Fili
  • Jordan Rinaldi vs. Gregor Gillespie
  • Drew Dober vs. Frank Camacho
  • Bobby Green vs. Erik Koch
  • Mirsad Bektic vs. Godofredo Pepey
  • Katlyn Chookagian vs. Mara Romero Borella
  • Randa Markos vs. Juliana Lima
  • Justine Kish vs. Ji Yeon Kim
  • Vinc Pichel vs. Joaquim Silva
  • Niko Price vs. George Sullivan
  • Austin Arnett vs. Cory Sandhagen

What fight(s) are you most looking forward to?

Ryan: It’s the main event between Jacare Souza and Derek Brunson a rematch of their August 2012 Strikeforce fight which Souza won by knockout in 41 seconds. At the time, Souza was one of the best middleweights in the world, while Brunson was a rising prospect. Fast forward a little over five years, and Souza remains one of the best middleweights in the world, but Brunson is right there with him.

I expect a much different fight and one that is more explosive. Souza was knocked out in his last fight by Robert Whittaker, but Brunson also received that same fate at the hands of Whittaker. It could come down to the grappling, and that favors Souza. On the feet, I think it now favors Brunson. It’s a great fight to make and now is the right time for a rematch, and it’s as good as it gets on this card.

Paul: This may sound weird, but it’s a women’s flyweight bout on the FS1 prelims, part of three back-to-back-to-back women’s bouts that are all interesting. Katlyn Chookagian vs. Maria Romero Borella is what has my eye as it could have title implications in the not too distant future. Chookagian came into UFC with a lot of fanfare and had worked her way up in the bantamweight rankings. Now fighting at a better weight for her, she should be even better. Borella has not lost in seven straight including a 1st round submission win in her UFC debut in October.

Josh: Yeesh, there is not a lot on this card and I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that this is going to be the lowest rated Fox show in history. You can’t run this many shows consecutively without taking a few in the gut and this one is a hard body blow for interest level. I’ll also go with Brunson vs. Souza as these fights usually help clear up part of a logjam in these top-heavy divisions.

Any dark horse fights?

Josh: The Bektic-Pepey fight caught my eye as well as the Green-Koch fight, mainly because it’s a crossroads fight for two veterans. Bektic got his first career loss last March and he had been a finishing machine up until that point. Pepey has been up and down, but has a good amount of submissions under his belt. With a history of finishes at a lighter weight class, I’m hoping for a good scrap here. I am also interested to see how prospect Niko Price rebounds from his first career loss and how Justine Kish rebounds from pooping herself in her last fight against Felice Herrig. (Seriously, she did this.)

Ryan: I like the fights between Jordan Rinaldi and Gregor Gillespie and Bektic vs. Pepey. Gillespie is undefeated and has potential at 155 pounds, and Rinaldi is a solid opponent. Gillespie will get to show if he’s going to remain on the climb up the ladder. Pepey is an exciting opponent, and while it’s really a fight that Bektic should win, it should be pretty good.

Paul: I was going to go with Bektic-Pepey but since the guys already mentioned it, let’s go with a Fight Pass prelim featuring Joaquim Silva (10-0) putting his unbeaten record on the line against Vinc Pichel (10-1). It’s not often you see two guys with impressive records like this facing each other, especially not that early in a card. Pichel is 35 and not exactly a prospect but with that record, it’s hard not to consider him for bigger fights especially if he wins again. Silva is much younger and a better prospect. If he picks up another win, he’d be 4-0 in UFC and he’d almost have to get a top 15 opponent next time out.

What isn’t doing it for you this weekend?

Paul: While the prelims have some interesting fights, especially for us hardcore fans, this main card is easily the worst in the history of MMA on network television, at least in terms of star power. But it’s not just that: it’s the quality of the fighters. Only the top two fights have top 15 fighters in them and there is no one even sniffing title contention on this card. Gillespie and Rinaldi are interesting prospects, but we’ve come to expect better fights than this on a Fox main card.

Ryan: The fact that this is a fight card on Fox isn’t doing it for me. It is easily the weakest Fox card ever and should be an FS1 Fight Night show instead. It just shows that there are too many events in a short period of time and too many fighters booked elsewhere that some other cards will suffer. It still has the potential for a good show and it does have a really solid main event, but it might not get a lot of attention.

Josh: In the final four months of 2017, the UFC averaged one event per week. This is their third event this month and there is five more coming from February through March. You can’t put out that much product and expect to be A+. There’s zero buzz for this show and coming off last weekend’s fun PPV in Boston, the fact this show exists isn’t doing it for me.

Why does this show matter?

Paul: In the big picture, I’m not sure that it does. This is UFC filling out their TV commitments with some fights on a card. I guess if you’re a diehard UFC fan (as I am) and just have to see everything, maybe it matters to you. Unfortunately, there is nothing at all jumping out from this card for the casual fan in any way whatsoever.

Ryan: It could flesh out the future of who is getting a title shot at 185 pounds, pending the return of current champion Robert Whittaker. Brunson would be closer to a title shot with a win, and Souza would need a couple of more if he gets by Brunson. That’s about it as no other fight has serious future implications riding on them. It’s pretty much a standard night of fighting.

Josh: I would agree with Paul: it really doesn’t. The Whittaker situation has thrown things off a bit as you’d expect the winner of the interim middleweight title fight between Yoel Romero vs. Luke Rockhold to face him, but with the internal staph issues, who knows when that could be? Plus, Chris Weidman is still out there and with a Rockhold win, that rematch seems likely. I could see the winner getting Kelvin Gastelum or maybe the Eryk Anders-Lyoto Machida winner just because.

Who wins?

Jacare vs. Brunson II

- Brunson: Ryan, Nason
- Jacare: Paul

Bermudez vs. Fili

- Bermudez: Paul, Nason, Ryan

Green vs. Koch

- Green: Ryan
- Koch: Nason, Paul

Keep up with our coverage on Saturday night, starting with the Fight Pass prelims through FS1 through big Fox.