Ranking the fights at UFC 275 — Can Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk deliver once once more?


We typically hear fighters say that it is the punch you do not see coming that knocks you out. It is smart. Fighters practice for months forward of a bout to tune up their expertise and put together for his or her opponent’s tendencies. So when one thing sudden comes flying in, it may be a stunner.

Fans expertise a pain-free equal of that on struggle nights, at any time when expectations are upended. Fights assured to be slugfests play out as Viennese waltzes. Unsung early prelims steal the highlight. Moments that knock us out, metaphorically talking, can come anytime in the night, not simply when the headliners take the stage.

So, what are we in for on Saturday? The marquee for UFC 275 (Sat. 10 p.m. on ESPN+ PPV) options two title fights. On an irresistible rise, one pits a strong, resilient champion towards a artistic drive, and the different showcases maybe the most dominant champ in blended martial arts. And simply earlier than these showstoppers for gold is a extremely anticipated rematch of the 2020 struggle of the yr.

Beyond that? There aren’t a number of recognizable names in the remainder of the lineup for Saturday in Singapore, making it tempting to belittle this as a three-card card. But the savvy amongst us know higher. You can by no means low cost the chance {that a} pair of “who’re they?” fighters will likely be the ones offering the weekend’s viral KO or breathtaking throwdown.

Here’s a rating of the high fights at UFC 275, from the apparent to the obscure.


Three must-see fights that you just’re unlikely to overlook

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Jiri Prochazka capitalizes on just a few early openings and seems to harm Dominick Reyes in Round 1.

1. Glover Teixeira vs. Jiri Prochazka

Teixeira is 42 years previous, and final October he turned the UFC’s oldest first-time champion. It occurred for him on his second strive, eight years and 15 fights after the first time he went for mild heavyweight gold. In 2014, Teixeira carried a 20-fight profitable streak into his large shot, however Jon Jones outclassed him. Sitting cageside in Baltimore that evening, I keep in mind considering Teixeira had reached his ceiling. He was a tricky man who, it appeared, was merely not champion materials.

That was a merciless perspective on certainly one of the sport’s good guys, however my opinion was buoyed by the a number of years of ups and downs that adopted for Teixeira. Then, round three years in the past, issues began trying up, up and up. That Teixeira’s twisty plot line in the end carried him to 6 straight wins and a late-career championship solely added to the feel-good plotline of the man’s inspiring narrative.

Teixeira’s first title protection comes towards the flip aspect of his file (he is sufficiently old to get that out of date reference). Whereas the burly Brazilian is powerful and expert, with a floor recreation to be feared, Prochazka is wiry and fluid, a menace at each second the struggle is standing. But their distinction runs deeper than that. Teixeira is meat and potatoes, getting the job achieved with brawny effectivity. Prochazka is adventurously artistic delicacies, his in-the-moment fury generally veering into recklessness. The 29-year-old Czech, competing in simply his third UFC bout, might swamp Teixeira or be drowned by his personal ill-advised slipup.

2. Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

I’m not going to disclaim that there was a robust urge to rank this one at the high, above each title bouts. After all, we have seen what these two girls are able to after they dance collectively. It’s the most violent mosh pit ever. But I’m going to violate the Thrilla in Manila Rule right here and make the unsteady presumption that the sequel will not upstage the authentic. I imply, of their 2020 assembly, each Zhang, then the strawweight champ, and ex-champ Jedrzejczyk landed almost 200 strikes apiece in an unrelenting back-and-forth basic gained by Zhang by break up determination. That’s so much to stay as much as.

The enchantment of this rematch has been lately ramped up considerably, although, because of Carla Esparza. Prior to Esparza upsetting Rose Namajunas final month to yank away the title, this struggle was to be a gathering of two fighters in limbo. They’d each misplaced twice to Namajunas and, even with a masterful win on Saturday, would have been a tough promote as a title challenger. Now, with “Thug Rose” having been got rid of the high of the mountain, this seems to be a transparent No. 1 contender showdown. That’s what boosts it above the co-main occasion title bout in my ebook. And late Saturday evening we would all be shaking our heads in amazement that these girls have produced one other struggle of the yr candidate.

3. Valentina Shevchenko vs. Taila Santos

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Taila Santos will get Joanne Wood to faucet out in the center of their bout at UFC Fight Night for the large win.

A small voice inside tells me to not hassle listening to yet one more overmatched challenger making a futile try to wrest the flyweight title away from Shevchenko. And after I hear that voice, I whisper again two phrases: “Julianna Peña.” In December, she was seen as having no likelihood to place up a aggressive struggle towards Amanda Nunes, the GOAT of ladies’s MMA. And then there was Peña choking out the champ and strolling away with the bantamweight belt.

Can Santos pull off a equally unlikely feat? She’s 19-1, only a break up determination in her 2019 UFC debut away from proudly owning an ideal file. And Shevchenko is 34 and has to decelerate at some level, proper? But moderately than attempt to persuade me that this will likely be the evening when the explosive “Bullet” will flip right into a clean, possibly I’m higher off merely acknowledging that I’ll be watching to witness greatness. It was a pleasure to look at Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Demetrious Johnson and George St-Pierre rule their weight courses for years. A Shevchenko win would give her the most UFC title defenses of any lady, breaking a tie with Ronda Rousey. Why not watch historical past in the making?


Three under-the-radar fights to not lose sight of

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Manel Kape hits Ode’ Osbourne with the unreal flying knee for the knockout end at UFC 265.

4. Rogerio Bontorin vs. Manel Kape

Thirty-four months. That is how way back it was that Bontorin final gained a struggle. Since then, he has misplaced three and seen what would have been a victory get overturned to no contest due to a drug take a look at failure. But these most up-to-date 4 fights have been towards the metal of the 125-pound division, together with a former champion. As a consequence, Bontorin continues to be in the ESPN flyweight rankings. Kape is a legit opponent however possibly a step down from what Bontorin has confronted these days, so he’ll function a measuring stick for a way good Bontorin is correct now. The cageside judges can take a espresso break throughout this one, as 16 of Kape’s 17 wins have been by end, and Bontorin has 14 finishes amongst his 17 wins.

5. Andre Fialho vs. Jake Matthews

This will likely be Fialho’s eighth struggle in the 16 months since the starting of 2021. He has gained all however certainly one of the seven to date, and each victory got here by end. The man is on a run. Can he maintain it going towards Matthews, who was on his personal run of success not way back? Before shedding to undefeated Sean Brady in March, Matthews had gained six of seven. This is a gathering of welterweights who’re used to getting their fingers raised and know easy methods to make it occur.

6. Jack Della Maddalena vs. Ramazan Emeev

This is the major card opener, making the pay-per-view portion of the night 5-for-5 in making these rankings. Della Maddalena has not misplaced in six years. Since dropping the first two fights of his profession in 2016, the Aussie has reeled off 11 straight wins, all however one by end. Emeev, winner of 9 of his previous 11 fights, ought to present a stiff take a look at — and an entertaining kickoff to the major card.


The full UFC 275 struggle card:

ESPN+ pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET

  • Light heavyweight championship: Glover Teixeira (c) vs. Jiri Prochazka

  • Women’s flyweight championship: Valentina Shevchenko (c) vs. Taila Santos

  • Strawweight: Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

  • Men’s flyweight: Rogerio Bontorin vs. Manel Kape

  • Welterweight: Jack Della Maddalena vs. Ramazan Emeev


ESPN2/ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET


ESPN+, 6:30 p.m. ET

(c) = defending champion


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