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UFC Calgary: Our questions and answers

Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier

After a card decimated by terrible luck, a promise to do better, and years of absence, the UFC finally returns to Calgary....Alberta, Canada, for a fun Fox show headlined by a rematch fight fans have wanted to see since their first tangle ended in a lackluster finish.

Helping yours truly sift through the show and answer a few questions is fellow MMA website scribes Paul Fontaine and Ryan Frederick. Also, we must shout out Ryan Pike who will be covering the show live from cageside starting at 4 PM Eastern.

(Apologies for this going up after the show started. We had a major thunderstorm that knocked out Internet.)

The Show

  • Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier 2
  • Jose Aldo vs. Jeremy Stephens
  • Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Tecia Torres
  • Alexander Hernandez vs. Olivier Aubin Mercier
  • Jordan Mein vs. Alex Morono
  • Kajan Johnson vs. Islam Makhachev
  • Hakeem Dawodu vs. Austin Arnet
  • Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs. Ion Cutelaba
  • John Makdessi vs. Ross Pearson
  • Alexis Davis vs. Katlyn Chookagian
  • Dustin Ortiz vs. Matheu Nicolau
  • Randa Markos vs. Nina Ansaroff
  • Devin Powell vs. Alvaro Herrera

What are you most looking forward to?

Ryan: The entire main card is fantastic, especially for a free fight card. The main event between Alvarez and Poirier has history, some bad blood, and unresolved business, and could end up being one of the best fights of the year. The co-main event between Aldo and Stephens is great matchmaking. We haven’t seen Aldo in a three-round fight, or a non-title fight for that matter, since his WEC days, and he’s a classic quick starter. It’s a good chance to see if he has anything left, or if his best days have truly passed him.

Jedrzejczyk and Torres is another great fight, and they have a history being former teammates at American Top Team. It’s a chance to see if Jedrzejczyk can get another crack at champion Rose Namajunas, who coincidentally (or not) trained with Torres for this fight. And the opener between Hernandez and OAB is a great battle of lightweight youngsters eager to move up the rankings.

Paul: Obviously, the main event. We were robbed of a three round war last year when these two fought the first time and an inadvertent foul ended things early. Now we potentially and hopefull get five founds of fun violence. Both of these guys go balls to the wall every time out and have produced some of the most memorable fights in MMA history. Best case scenario, we have a fight of the year candidate while Fight of the Night is almost a guarantee.

Josh: Without a doubt, the main event and the co-main event as a distant second. I can't say much more than has been said about the Alvarez-Poirier rematch, but this: a dud of a fight would be a heartbreaker. While you might think it's not possible, can I remind you about Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis?

Anything being overlooked?

Josh: In a sense, the Jedrzejczyk-Torres fight as the former and once dominant champion really needs to pick up a win here in order to stay relevant in the division. Imagine saying that two years ago. Torres has a real shot to beat her and a win here puts her in title contention talk where a loss probably sees Jedrzejczyk moving up a weight class. Also, I think that more people should be looking at how one of the best featherweights of all time (and possibly the best) finds himself in such a strange place in his career at such a young age.

Ryan: A fight that deserves to be much higher on the card Ortiz vs. Nicolau at flyweight. Ortiz has won two straight and is gaining momentum, while Nicolau has scored six straight and seems to be getting better each time he steps into the Octagon. The winner could be very close in securing a title shot at 125 pounds. The fight is buried in the middle of the Fight Pass prelims, but deserves to be in the televised prelims portion. It’s definitely overlooked.

Paul: I would have gone with the flyweight fight as well so I’ll pick another flyweight fight but in the women’s division with Alexis Davis vs. Katlyn Chookagian. Davis is a former title challenger at bantamweight and holds a win over the current champion in that division, while Chookagian has lost only once in her entire career. Davis has an impressive 6-2 record in UFC including wins over Sarah Kaufman, Valerie Letourneau and the aforementioned Amanda Nunes. FightMatrix.com lists these two as the #3 and #4 fighters at flyweight in the worldwide rankings.

Anything not doing it for you?

Paul: Aside from the two aforementioned flyweight bouts, the entire undercard is kinda “just fights”. For the most part, it’s Canadian-based fighters who you usually only see on these cards north of the 49 against fighters from the rest of the world. At the end of the day, they exist just to fill time and won’t really have any lasting impact in terms of rankings or future big fights. I was really hoping that local product Jesse Arnett, one of the top non-affiliated fighters in any weight class out there, would get a shot on this card, but there are still a few more cards in Canada this year for the Big Cat to make his UFC debut.

Ryan: The only fight that I really don’t care for is Davis vs. Chookagian because it has the chance to be very boring. Both women, especially Chookagian, have shown themselves to be patient, point fighters, and the styles could make for a boring fight. It is the most skippable fight on the card.

Josh: Everything seems to be slotted where it should be. It's a Fox show in the middle of a busy stretch so talent is stretched thin.

Any intrigue with this show?

Ryan: The main card and whether the three former champions can show they still belong in the title discussion, or if it is time for new contenders to emerge and work their way towards title shots. The main card is such great matchmaking that this is really a can’t-miss event for UFC fans.

Paul: If you add a title fight, almost any title fight really, to the main card, those five fights would be talked about as one of the best PPVs of the year. That’s how good this main card is. To me, the most intriguing thing is the fact that it’s been a combined 19 fights and near 14 years since we have seen either Aldo or Jedrzejczyk in a non-title fight. It will be interesting to see if either of the former long-time champions in their respective divisions adjust their game plans to reflect the fact that they’re only fighting for 15 minutes instead of the usual 25.

Josh: As Ryan and Paul mentioned, it's the main event and the performances of Aldo and Jedrzejczyk that are the most intriguing and important. Everything else is shifting among the lower undercard. However, if Alexander Hernandez has another impressive performance at lightweight, that's a great win for a young prospect. I'm also interested in Devin Powell's performance as he lives and has a school about 15 minutes away from me.

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

Ryan: I see people being interested if performances earned fighters title shots. The winner of the main event is definitely in the discussion for a title shot, especially if Conor McGregor doesn’t come to a new deal to fight. I think people will see that the former #1 fighter in the world, Jose Aldo, is past his prime, and that Joanna Jedrzejczyk is destined to be Joanna Champion once again, but maybe not necessarily at 115 pounds.

Paul: Having just seen the fight of the year, whether Eddie Alvarez re-signs with UFC for a potential title shot (if he wins) or if Bellator offers him big money to return to the organization where a trilogy fight with Michael Chandler could be one of the biggest potential fights for 2019. Also whether or not Jose Aldo is done, should he lose for a third straight time.

Josh: That Aldo and Jedrzejczyk will find themselves searching for answers after losses, that Alvarez has a ton of leverage as a free agent, and that it was a fun night of fights.

Who wins?

Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier 2

- Alvarez: Ryan, Josh
- Poirier: Paul

- Jose Aldo vs. Jeremy Stephens

- Stephens: Ryan, Josh, Paul

- Double J vs. Double T

Jedrzejczyk: Ryan, Paul
Torres: Josh

- Alexander Hernandez vs. Olivier Aubin Mercier

OAM: Ryan, Paul, Nason

- John Makdessi vs. Ross Pearson

Makdessi: Josh, Paul
Pearson: Ryan