The UFC's August has been a relatively quiet one, but the promotion kicks off a four-in-five week stretch tonight in Lincoln, Nebraska, with an interesting main event and a lot of litmus test fights up and down the card.
- Justin Gaethje vs. James Vick
- Michael Johnson vs. Andre Fili
- Cortney Casey vs. Angela Hill
- Jake Ellenberger vs. Bryan Barbarena
- John Moraga vs. Deiveson Figueiredo
- Eryk Anders vs. Tim Williams
- James Krause vs. Warlley Alves
- Iuri Alcantara vs. Cory Sandhagen
- Andrew Sanchez vs. Markus Perez
- Mickey Gall vs. George Sullivan
- Joanne Calderwood vs. Kalinda Faria
- Drew Dober vs. Jon Tuck
- Rani Yahya vs. Luke Sanders
What are you most looking forward to?
Ryan: Gaethje vs. Vick. Gaethje provides some of the most action-packed fights in the sport, and there is a very good reason tonight is his third main event in just his fourth UFC appearance. It is about time that Vick, an excellent fighter, gets a spotlight fight as he has a solid win streak and is making headway into the title picture at 155 pounds. It’s a great fight that should produce a lot of action. I’m also interested in seeing how some notable fighters -- namely Eryk Anders, Mickey Gall and Joanne Calderwood -- bounce back after recent tough losses.
Paul: The main event, for sure. Other that, I’d like to see if Mickey Gall can rebound from his first career loss and become any kind of a star coming off the high profile wins over Sage Northcutt and CM Punk. He’s in a good spot, opening up the TV broadcast on FS2.
Josh: Without a doubt, the main event because of the stakes for both guys. Vick has been calling for a big fight for months and months, and answered the call when Al Iaquinta had to drop out due to...something. A win here puts him in a spot where he can't be ducked anymore while a loss makes it that much harder to get the names he wants. For Gaethje, he really needs a win here. He certainly won't get cut, but even the most exciting fighters need a 'W' to stay relevant, especially in a deep division like 155.
Anything being slept on?
Josh: Gall vs. Sullivan because, not that long ago, Gall was touted as a very interesting prospect at welterweight. I'm glad to see him back in there after his recent defeat and this one will tell us a lot about whether he's made advances since his last time out. Also, the aforementioned Anders gets a nice opportunity to resume his push after his controversial decision loss to Lyoto Machida, a fight he shouldn't have been in to begin with. A flashy finish will put him back on the right track.
Ryan: There is an excellent flyweight fight between John Moraga and Deiveson Figueiredo on the main card that is flying under the radar. There hasn’t been much attention given to the flyweight division this year (I believe this is just the second or third flyweight fight to be on a main card in 2018), but there is a new champion at 125 pounds and a growing list of contenders. Moraga has bounced back strong of late after a tough string of losses, and Figueiredo is undefeated in 14 career fights. This should be a good one.
Paul: Anders was supposed to be the next big thing before the Machida fight. He’s still very early in his career and his fight with little-known Tim Williams is not getting a lot of buzz. He’s the biggest favorite on the card and I’m looking for a big bounceback performance from “Ya Boy”.
Anything not doing it for you?
Paul: I like women’s MMA as much as the next guy but seeing Angela Hill vs. Cortney Casey that high up on the card seems a little odd. Pair that with the fact that it will most likely be a boring standup fight for 15 minutes and I’m not really sure why they’re getting such a high profile spot that could be used for the flyweight bout Ryan brought up earlier, or even what I think could be a better women’s fight between Joanne Calderwood and Kalindra Faria on the Fight Pass portion of the show.
Ryan: I’m not sure we should still be seeing Ellenberger fight, at least not in the UFC. He is 2-8 in his last ten fights, being finished in six of those losses. He was actually cut at one point, but begged Dana White to get his job back, won in his next fight after that, but has since lost three straight, all by brutal knockout. He is also less than three months removed from being knocked out cold at the hands of Ben Saunders. He probably shouldn’t be fighting at all, let alone this quickly again, but this could be it against Barberena.
Josh: I agree with Ryan on Ellenberger, but another fighter in that same vein is Michael Johnson. He's lost five of his last six and while I understand he's moved down a division, he's been finished in his last three. Another loss here doesn't forebode well for his Octagon future.
What’s the intrigue with the show?
Ryan: I don’t think there is that much intrigue, but it is nice to see some UFC action after three weeks away. It’s a big stretch heading into the end of the year. The only real interest might be in the main event, and a couple of undercard fights. This isn’t a star heavy show and might not pull in big ratings, but is a solid refresher from no UFC action since August 4.
Paul: Whether or not Gaethje will actually die in the Octagon. He gives it his all each and every fight and at some point, all of these brutal wars are going to catch up to him. Until they do, he’ll keep racking up the Fights of the Night and entertaining his growing multitude of fans.
Josh: The outcome of Vick-Gaethje and how Anders performs.
What will be people talking about most after the show is done?
Ryan: That the winner of the main event finds himself just outside the title picture at 155 pounds. It’s a real toss-up as to whom that is going to be, but the winner will definitely be in the conversation for a top-five opponent in their next fight.
Paul: Other than the main event, It will be whether or not Anders is as good as he’ll probably look against Williams and whether he can be a middleweight contender like everyone thought he could be going into the Machida fight. Also, Gall will probably have an interesting callout should he win his fight.
Josh: That Gaethje sustained his spot and that Vick is still a bit far away from the upper echelon of the division.
Justin Gaethje vs. James Vick
Gaethje: Ryan, Paul, Josh
Michael Johnson vs. Andre Fili
Fili: Paul, Josh
Jake Ellenberger vs. Bryan Barbarena
Barberena: Paul, Ryan, Josh
James Krause vs. Warlley Alves
Alves: Ryan, Josh
Mickey Gall vs. George Sullivan
Gall: Josh, Ryan, Paul
Keep up with our live coverage tonight.