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Our questions about UFC 226 and TUF 27 finale weekend

Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier | UFC 226

After a trip overseas last weekend, UFC returns to Las Vegas for two shows this weekend, starting tonight on FS1 with the TUF 27 finale event and continuing Saturday with UFC 226, a buzzworthy and much-anticipated card despite the loss of the Max Holloway-Brian Ortega featherweight title bout.

As always, we have some questions about the 20+ fights we're about to see and the storylines leading in/coming out of them. Joining me as always is Paul Fontaine and Ryan Frederick, one of which isn't excited for Saturday one damn bit!

Be sure to check out Paul's recap of Thursday's UFC Hall of Fame ceremony, will ya?

TUF 27 Finale | Friday

  • Tavares vs. Adesanya
  • Trizano vs. Giannetti
  • Katona vs. Cuccinello
  • Caceres vs. Bravo
  • Modafferi vs. Honchak
  • Di Chirico vs. Marquez
  • De La Rosa vs. Ostovich
  • Pena vs. Smullen
  • Gunther vs. Zuniga
  • Bessette vs. Peterson
  • Meerschaert vs. Piechota
  • Diamond vs. Mitchell

UFC 226 | Saturday

  • UFC Heavyweight Championship: Miocic vs. Cormier
  • Ngannou vs. Lewis
  • Felder vs. Perry
  • Chiesa vs. Pettis*
  • Saki vs. Rountree
  • Hall vs. Costa
  • Assuncao vs. Font
  • Millender vs. Griffin
  • Hooker vs. Burns
  • Vannata vs. Klose
  • Moyle vs. Whitmire

*Chiesa missed weight at 157.5. The fight still has to be agreed to as of this writing.

eeWhat are you most looking forward to?

Ryan: I’m really looking forward to UFC 226 as a whole. It sucks that the event lost the Max Holloway-Brian Ortega fight, but the card is deep overall with a really great main event. Some people may knock it, but maybe those people forgot how great Cormier was as a heavyweight. He’s never lost a round there and 13-0. The winner is arguably the greatest heavyweight of all time, and it’s the top fight I’m looking forward to. The Friday main event between Tavares and Adesanya is a very good fight as well.

Paul: I honestly couldn’t care less about almost everything on the PPV card. Personally, it’s the featherweight tourney final fight on the TUF Finale show between Brad Katona and Jay Cucciniello that interests me the most. Katona just happens to be from my hometown and he’s an exciting fighter and a great promo. Cuccinello is coming off one of the best fights of the year on the last episode of TUF and reminds me a lot of Brad Pickett.

Josh: Ladies and germs, only Paul would say he wouldn’t care about one of the better PPV cards of the year in favor of a TUF finale fight. I haven’t seen any of this season of TUF so you could have handed me a list of fake names and I would have believed they were on that show. The Miocic-Cormier fight is what I’m most looking forward to due to the legacy stakes for both men, but that whole PPV card is interesting even with Holloway-Ortega scrapped.

Anything being overlooked?

Ryan: Maybe the Tavares-Adesanya main event on Friday, but two fights that need more attention on Saturday’s show is Saki vs. Rountree and Felder vs. Perry. Those are both going to be violent. Saki is in the conversation of best kickboxer ever, and his lone UFC bout was all action with a great finish. Felder and Perry should be on all-violence teams, so that should be a war.

Paul: Gilbert Burns vs. Dan Hooker is on the Fight Pass portion of Saturday’s show. Between the two of them, they have 12 UFC wins and 11 of them have been by stoppage. Both are just on the outer fringe of contendership and a win on one of the biggest shows of the year could push one of them to the next level.

Josh: The return of the once buzzworthy Francis Ngannou. The guy fought six months ago in one of the most anticipated heavyweight title fights in years and finally returns. What did he learn? What if he brutally KOs Derrick Lewis? What if Lewis knocks him out? One loss put the halt on the momentum can help get the train moving again.

Anything not doing it for you?

Ryan: Both cards are good, considering the Friday TUF Finale is serving its purpose. Saturday is so deep that there is something for everyone, and even though the actual best fight heading into the week got cancelled, there is still 23 fun fights coming up.

Paul:  I don’t care at all for the main event on Saturday, but I know I’m in the minority. Cormier isn’t even the real champion at light heavyweight as far as I’m concerned and him getting the title shot is a gimmick. I see Miocic winning fairly easily as his size and reach will be too much for DC. Cormier’s only path to victory is wrestling him to death and the prospects of that don’t exactly excite me.

Josh: That whole Friday show is a waste. Virtually no one watches TUF anymore and its importance shrinks by the day with the Tuesday Night Contender Series growing in popularity among hardcores. I also hate the Adesanya-Tavares fight. I think it’s too soon for the flashy Adesanya and a grinder loss to the boring fighting style of Tavares doesn’t do anyone any favors. I hope I’m wrong, but as you all know, I’m always right.

Any intrigue with these shows?

Ryan: For Friday, it’s whether Adesanya is being pushed too quick, facing a top-ten ranked opponent in just his third UFC bout. On Saturday, you have Ngannou and Lewis looking to take each others’ head off, and Chiesa looking to break into that next level while Pettis wants to prove he has a lot of fight left. Felder wants to fight badly after two cancelled fights. Assuncao wants to prove that he should be next in line at 135 pounds, not Dominick Cruz or Marlon Moraes. There’s a ton of other intrigue as well.

Paul: I couldn’t disagree more with Ryan. I don’t think anything on either show matters at all with the possible exception of a future champion in Israel Adesanya on Friday. But, no one will see that so it’s probably his next fight where he’ll make a bigger step. I suppose if DC pulls off the upset and beats Stipe, it will be a big story.

Josh: I am stunned at Paul’s lack of excitement for Saturday. Outside the main event on Friday, Saturday is where the attention should be focused. With nearly everything on the main card, we get great litmus tests to where fighters are at. Even that undercard has some talents looking to stake claims to bigger things. The results of Saturday should put some bigger fights for November and December into motion.

What will be people talking about most after the show is done?

Ryan: I do think Stipe Miocic is going to win the main event, so the thing people will be talking about is what is next for both Stipe and Cormier. For Stipe, you could be talking about fights against Brock Lesnar, Jon Jones, Alexander Volkov, or even Cain Velasquez when and if he returns. For Cormier, you’d have to think going back to 205 pounds would be where he heads off a loss, and there are fights with Jones (if he comes back soon) and Alexander Gustafsson looming. You also have less than a year left for Cormier in the sport. It’s the fight of the weekend to pay attention to.

Paul: People will be talking about Lesnar vs Cormier because I truly believe that, win or lose, that’s the next fight for him. Cormier is the one guy they can count on to make it to the fight and it’s a winnable fight for Lesnar. Cormier will talk it up to the point that it will probably do really well on PPV. Other than that, if Lewis pulls off a win over Ngannou, he probably sets himself up as a future title contender, but I’m fairly certain he won’t.

Josh: That the new heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier finally came through in a big spot and that we really need to see Jon Jones fight him at heavyweight, but that Miocic rematch needs to happen first...at MSG in November.

Who wins?

Stipe vs. DC

- Miocic: Ryan, Paul
- Cormier: Nason

Ngannou vs. Lewis

- Ngannou: Ryan, Paul, Nason

Adesanya vs. Tavares

- Adesanya: Ryan, Paul
- Tavares: Nason

Chiesa vs. Pettis

- Pettis: Ryan
- Chiesa: Paul, Nason

Assuncao vs. Font

- Assuncao: Ryan, Nason
- Font: Paul

Modafarri vs. Honchak

- Honchak: Ryan, Nason
- Modaferri: Paul

Follow along with all the happenings this weekend on this very site.