On tap this weekend we have the long-awaited return Leon Edwards as he takes on the surging Belal Muhammed who stepped in on about three weeks notice. Top to bottom this fight card has a ton of exciting fights that will have you on the edge of your seats.
Eryk Anders vs Darren Stewart
Starting off the main card is a middleweight clash between two heavy hitters in Darren Stewart and Eryk Anders. Both fighters are looking to get back on track in this fight which should bring out the best in both fighters.
Darren Stewart is coming off a close split decision loss to Kevin Holland in a fight that could have gone either way. Stewart has looked much better in the latter portion of his career winning 5 of his last 8. He should have a considerable striking advantage in this fight but he needs to defend the takedowns of Anders to keep the fight on the feet, that will be his key to victory.
Eryk Anders is also coming off of a loss, one which was one-sided in favor of Krzysztof Jotko. Anders just hasn’t seemed like the same fighter that came storming into the UFC as an undefeated prospect. He just hasn’t been efficient on the feet but he still possesses fight-changing power with the ability to mix in some takedowns. If he wants to squeak out a win here he is going to need to make this an ugly clinch and grappling type of fight.
It is hard to expect Anders to have the same success that fighters like Bartosz Fabinski had grappling against Stewart. He has shown that he doesn’t possess the top control to keep his opponents on the mat. As long as Stewart stays busier than Anders on the feet then he should cruise to a win here.
Darren Stewart via unanimous decision
Mattheus Nicolau vs Manel Kape
Two high-flying flyweights, Matheus Nicolau and Manel Kape square off in a potential fight of the night bout. Both of these fighters are looking to impress in this fight Saturday, one you can expect there to be a ton action throughout.
Manel Kape came in flat in his octagon debut against Alexandre Pantoja. Kape seemed to be gun shy and only attempted 91 strikes, which let Pantoja win the fight just based on sheer volume. He showed promise in the latter portion of the fight which bodes well coming into this matchup with Matheus Nicolau.
Matheus Nicolau is hoping his second stint with the UFC will be a better one. After being released when he lost to Dustin Ortiz by 1st round knockout, Nicolau has won two straight. Nicolau has fast hands, technical striking, and a very dangerous ground game which makes him a complete fighter. He is going to need to use his speed to his advantage to keep away from the power of Kape which could be the difference-maker.
Nicolau has the speed coming into this Kape but what Kape lacks in speed he makes up with game-changing power. Don’t expect to see the same Kape as we saw in his UFC debut, expect him to look like his normal aggressive and explosive self which is what brought him to the big leagues. The exchanges are the feet will be close for a good portion of this fight but the power and explosiveness of Kape will be too much for Nicolau.
Manel Kape via 2nd round KO/TKO
Jonathan Martinez vs Davey Grant
Surging Jonathan Martinez takes on the gritty veteran Davey Grant in a bantamweight clash this Saturday night. Both fighters are looking to keep their winning streaks alive in this closely contested matchup.
Jonathan Martinez has been on a tear winning 4 of his last 5 with that sole loss being a controversial one. Martinez has grown a lot since his UFC debut loss against Andre Soukhamthath. He has been putting combinations together in bunches and has shown his well-roundedness which has helped him in this surge of this career.
Davey Grant has been surging in his own right with a two-fight win streak and looking to win three straight for the first time in his career. Grant is coming off of arguably the best performance of his career with a 3rd round knockout of Martin Day. He’s going to need to keep the momentum going because he has got a tall task in front of him with taking on Jonathan Martinez.
Martinez has been a great forward pressure fighter thus far and he is going to need that pressure to break Grant in this fight. Grant has shown to wilt under pressure in his previous fights. Grant on the other hand is going to need to mix in some takedowns and land some top control if he wants to have a chance of winning this one.
Jonathan Martinez via 2nd round KO/TKO
Dan Ige vs Gavin Tucker
In arguably the most exciting fight on the fight card, we have a featherweight scrap between two of the divisions best Dan Ige and Gavin Tucker. Ige was originally slated to fight Ryan Hall but due to injury Hall had to pull out and Tucker stepped in on short notice to seize the opportunity.
Dan Ige is coming off his first loss in his last 7 fights succumbing to the pace and pressure of Kattar. Ige has shown throughout his time in the UFC that it is going to take a lot to get your hand raised against him. He also has something he has never had in any other fight and that is a 5″ reach advantage. That could play a critical role in this fight.
Gavin Tucker is riding a three-fight win streak and he hasn’t ever looked better than he did against Billy Quarantiillo in his last fight. He was absolutely dominant in that fight beating Quarantillo to the punch and then winning all of the grappling exchanges. He is going to need to have another stellar performance if he is going to pull the upset in this massive step up in competition against Dane Ige.
Dan Ige has shown that he has some holes in his defensive grappling that Gavin Tucker is going to have to exploit in order to win this fight. Though he has been taken down in the past his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has helped him get back to his feet where he is most dangerous. This fight should be a close back and forth battle to the very end where just one fighter squeaks it out in the end.
Dan Ige via split decision
Misha Cirkunov vs Ryan Spann
In the co-main event, we have a light heavyweight class between two proven finishers in Misha Cirkunov and Ryan Spann. This is going to be a great scrap for however long it lasts.
Ryan Spann is looking to get back on track in this bout with Misha Cirkunov. Spann was on the losing end of some deadly Johnny Walker elbows all after knocking Walker down twice within a 60-second span. Spann is going to need to use his height and reach advantages to keep Cirkunov at the end of his punches and to hurt him as he comes in.
Misha Cirkunov is coming off of one of the craziest first rounds in UFC history back in 2019. He was on the way to getting pounded out from mount only to reverse the position to win with a Peruvian necktie submission against the very tough Jimmy Crute. Cirkunov has shown that his chin is there to hit and that it has taken a ton of damage over the years. He is going to need to get on the inside of the reach of Spann and get this fight to the mat where he can dominate.
There is going to be a lot of heavy leather being thrown around in this fight and it will only take one of those punches to land from either fight to land the knockout. Spann should be able to keep this fight at range and on the feet where he will find the home for his right hand to put out Cirkunov.
Ryan Spann via 1st round KO/TKO
Leon Edwards vs Belal Muhammad
The main event for this weekend’s fight card is a fight between the returning Leon Edwards and the surging Belal Muhammad. We haven’t seen Edwards in almost two years but are still sporting an 8-fight win streak. Muhammad looks he is in the best form of his career riding a 4-fight win streak into this short notice matchup against Edwards.
Leon Edwards is being told by the boss man Dana White that if he is victorious in a spectacular way then he is guaranteed a title shot. So, there is a lot on the line in this fight for Edwards to perform and that is usually when we see the best out of him. The long layoff may be a detriment early on in this fight but as the rounds go on he will pick up the pace and the timing on his shots. He is going to need to defend the takedowns of Muhammad and keep this fight at range where he sports a 3″ height and 2″ reach advantage.
Belal Muhammad has been nothing short of dominant in his 4-fight win streak with notable wins over Takashi Sato, Lyman Good, and Dhiego Lima. He is taking this fight on a couple of weeks notice after Khamzat Chimaev had to pull out of the fight with complications due to Covid. These are the type of high-pressure situations that Muhammad excels in. He is a very well-rounded mixed martial artist and he is going to need to use every last one of his skills to get the job done here against one of the divisions best.
It’s good to finally see Leon Edwards back inside the octagon while it is also great to see Belal Muhammad getting the step up in competition that he deserves. If this fight plays out primarily on the feet then Edwards should have his way with Muhammad. With that said, if Muhammad can implement his takedowns just to keep Edwards guessing it could really make this main event an interesting one.
Leon Edwards via unanimous decision