The UFC rolls back into Texas for the first time in 10 months and makes sure to bring the smoke with this stacked ESPN card. From top to bottom this card from San Antonio is promising to deliver all-out action and high stakes for multiple divisions.
Main Event – 5 Rounds
Welterweight Division – up to 171lbs
Rafael Dos Anjos 29-11 #4 vs Leon Edwards 17-3 #12
The main event pits two of the welterweight division’s most dynamic strikers against each other in a fight that has potential title ramifications. Dos Anjos is coming in as the fourth-ranked welterweight in the world, but at 34 years old, one has to ask how much is left in the tank. He has recent wins in the division over former champion Robbie Lawler, Tarec Saffiedine, Neil Magny and most recently, division newcomer Kevin Lee. Before his most recent win, he lost a fight for the interim championship to Colby Covington and followed that up with a loss against future actual champion Kamaru Usman.
Dos Anjos is a finished product at this point and his fighting style is to constantly pressure and attack with stiff leg kicks and solid hands. He has a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt but struggles with strong wrestlers who come forward with cardio that can match his. His experience has given him a high fight IQ, and he uses that to set up traps and have his opponent walk into strikes. Against Kevin Lee he kept up the pressure for the first two rounds, wore him down in the clinch, and set up an arm triangle in the fourth round of their main event.
Edwards is coming in on a 7-fight UFC win streak. As he has progressed in his career, the quality of his opponents has increased. Edwards has passed every test, and Dos Anjos is by far the toughest opponent he will have faced.
Edwards is a big welterweight and uses spacing to potshot his opponents. His plus power eventually wears his opponents down, and his fights turn into sparring sessions. Edwards is currently ranked #12 in the division but hasn’t been able to secure a big-name opponent to make a jump in the rankings until now. His majority decision victories haven’t made the brass push him into the limelight. This fight is huge for the surging Edwards, and I expect him to deliver.
Dos Anjos is a former champion but Edwards has too much for him in this matchup. I have Edwards via decision.
Heavyweight Division – up to 266 lbs
Aleksi Oleinik 57-12-1-0NC #9 vs Walt Harris 12-7-0-1NC #14
This fight is meant to showcase the “new and improved” Walt Harris, but he will have a tough test against veteran Aleksei Oleinik. Harris is coming off a highlight-reel finish in May against Sergey Spivak and is undefeated in his past three bouts (with one fight overturned for positive PED test). Oleinik is coming off a brutal first-round TKO loss against Alistair Overeem, but Oleinik had his moments in that fight.
The heavyweight division is so shallow for talent that Harris is being pushed to the top of the division, and Oleinik is tailor-made to get him there. I have Harris by TKO in the first round.
Undercard Highlight Fight
Heavyweight Division – up to 266 lbs
Greg Hardy 4-1-0-0NC vs Juan Adams 5-1-0-0NC
The more interesting heavyweight fight is the grudge match between embattled former NFL star Greg Hardy and Houston’s own Juan Adams. Adams has subjected Hardy to a hall-of-fame troll job leading up to this fight. Adams’ distaste for Hardy is well-documented, and through a little searching on social media you can find his custom hashtag to promote this fight. Due to all the vitriol slung against him, Hardy has taken this fight personal and has guaranteed a knockout. I don’t see that happening: the only path to victory for Hardy is a knockout punch, but Adams has more options. Adams’ options include taking the fight down to the ground and finishing there, as well as earning a knockout by strikes.
I have Houston’s own Juan Adams by TKO.
This is one of the rare fight cards that is legitimately stacked from top to bottom. The rest of the main card includes Texan James Vick taking on Dan Hooker, Alexander Hernandez looking to rebound against tough veteran Francisco Trinaldo, and Ben Rothwell running it back against Andrei Arlovski. The preliminary card features fan favorite Alex “Leroy” Caceras taking on Steven Peterson, Raquel Pennington looking to rebound against up-and-comer Irene Aldana, and “Smilin’” Sam Alvey taking on Klidson Farias de Abreu to open the festivities.
What: UFC Fight Night on ESPN 4: San Antonio: Dos Santos vs Edwards
Where to watch: ESPN
When: Saturday, July 20, 2019
Time: Preliminary Card – 7:00 p.m. CDT