Big fight card for the UFC this Saturday, August 28th, with a banger main card stacked with some great fights with veterans like Edson Barboza and Kevin Lee, as well as rising prospects in Giga Chikadze and Daniel Rodriguez. The most important aspect of the last August fight card is that the finale of The Ultimate Fighter in its return season will take place for their Bantamweight and Middleweight fighters on the show. This card could showcase a future champion, like the show has given us before in fighters like Robert Whittaker, Michael Bisping, and Kamaru Usman. There will also be fights with some fighters from the show that impressed but fell short of making the finale. Let’s dive into some of these fights to look for this weekend.
Before we start, I want to say that the prelims for this card has some great names to watch for like Abdul Razak Alhassan, Darren Stewart, and Alessio Di Chirico, but the main fights I want to focus on comes from the main card. With all that said, the lightweight star Kevin “The Motown Phenom” Lee (18-6) returns to the octagon as a Welterweight for the first time ever to take on Daniel “D-Rod” Rodriguez (15-2). Lee is only 28 but has a history for always putting on a show and giving elite fighters a rough time in the octagon for the past 7 years. Lightweight is a stacked division, so he has fell short of getting to the top, as well as missed weight 2 times due to a rough weight cut for Lee. He looks to move to the 170-pound division and put himself with the top fighters in the division, but he has his hands full with the 34-year-old Rodriguez. D-Rod has put together some great performances this year with a dominant win over Mike Perry and a great knockout on Preston Parsons. He always is looked past in his bouts by experts, but he looks to come off with, yet another upset with a win over Lee. As much as I love to watch Rodriguez’s desire in the octagon, I do think that Lee will prevail as the winner. Lee has a tremendous wrestling background and great stand-up to compliment it, deeming him too much for D-Rod.
Next, the bantamweight championship for The Ultimate Fighter will feature the 22-year-old savage Brady “Bam-Bam” Hiestand (5-1) and the crazy “Pretty Ricky” Ricky Turcios (11-2). The 135-pound division will receive a new young contender to watch for with this fight Saturday. Hiestand fought on the show with a strained meniscus but found a way to win in his two fights to get to the finale. He beat Joshua Rettinghouse on a split decision but came back with a TKO win in the semifinal over Vince Murdock. Turcios became a fan favorite in both of his unanimous decisions over Daniel Argueta and Liudvik Sholinian. Turcios was remembered by fans with his wild persona in the octagon, inviting the opponents to the middle of the octagon and dare them to swing away. Both fighters have that hunger in them to brawl and find a way to win. Turcios has seemed to be the favorite of the bantamweights for the season, but I believe a fully healthy Hiestand will find a way to take out Turcios and win the bantamweight tournament for a contract with the UFC.
Let us not forget the middleweight finale this weekend as the co-main event between the scary Bryan “Pooh Bear” Battle (5-1) and the replacement for Tresean Gore after a knee injury, Gilbert Urbina (6-1). The original fight was going to be absolutely insane between Gore and Battle. Both fighters were dominant and looked like the best in the show, but sadly Gore suffered an injury in camp, leading to Urbina taking his spot. Urbina is a solid fighter but ended up losing in the semifinals to Gore via a KO that was for sure the best of the season. Urbina gets a shot at redemption against Battle, but this will be a tall task. Battle all season was super confident and showed why with an amazing submissions over Andre Petroski (who will be fighting this Saturday as well) and an unanimous decision over Kemran Lachinov. Battle easily won both matched and will be a heavy favorite since Urbina was a late addition to the final. I will take Battle in this bout via another submission. His ground game is very impressive, leaving him to be too much this weekend against Urbina.
Finally, the main event for this weekend’s fight card is a cannot miss, MUST WATCH! The main event features two of the most insane kickers/strikers in the whole UFC as featherweights Edson “Junior” Barboza (22-9) takes on the “Ninja” Giga Chikadze (13-2). Each of these fighters have had some crazy finishes through their career. Chikadze is called ‘ninja’ due to his movements while in a fight. His kicks are crazy, but they may not top Barboza’s career highlights. He is known for his wild kicks to finish off his opponents like his spinning roundhouse on Terry Etim or his flying knee on the top 5 lightweight Beneil Daruish. Barboza came into the UFC as a lightweight but struggled a bit at times. His move to featherweight has been great for his career as he has won two straight fights against Shane Burgos and Makwan Amirkhani. Giga is on an 8-fight win streak and is currently 6-0 in the UFC since his arrival. His last fight against the veteran Cub Swanson showcased his true skill after a flurry of different level kicks led to a TKO due to a body kick. Be on the lookout for some beautiful kicks and techniques to be on display. I believe that this will be the fight of the night with Barboza winning by possibly a split decision, but you can go either way with this one.
Many great fights to come this Saturday to end the month of August. A huge featherweight contender fight with possibly the future of the sport coming to showcase the talent to come. The Ultimate Fighter’s return is coming to an end with the hopes of providing the fans with the next champion in both the bantamweight and middleweight division. This fight card will fulfill our needs until the September 4th fight card with Derek Brunson and Darren Till. Tune in Saturday starting at 7 PM EST.