UFC returns this weekend after taking a week off last week after Cyril Gane opened the month of August with an Interim Heavyweight Championship win over Derrick Lewis. The card this weekend is very solid with some sneaky fights that come people may look over. The main event is between two elite middleweights looking to get their shot at Israel Adesanya, as Kelvin Gastelum and Jared Cannonier take center stage in the world of mixed martial arts. Let’s dive into some fights to watch for this weekend that could bring the heat and win fight of the night.
There will be only 6 prelim fights for this card this weekend, but there is one fight that is sticking out to me which is the bantamweight bout between Brian “Boom” Kelleher (22-12) and Domingo “Son of Fire” Pilarte (8-2). This is a very odd matchup as Kelleher is moving down to bantamweight after a decision loss to Ricky Simon, but he has a six-and-a-half-inch reach discrepancy to Pilarte. Pilarte is also six inches taller than Kelleher. The size difference between these fighters will be wild. Pilarte had his last fight come out as a no contest against Journey Newson as Newson failed a drug test, testing positive for marijuana in Texas, even though the UFC does not test for marijuana anymore. Both fighters need a win to get back on track. I believe that Pilarte may get the win due to the size difference, but Kelleher has a great ground game. Look out for the funkiness of this fight, should be fun.
Two flyweight top contenders kick off the main card this weekend as 3rd ranked Alexandre “The Cannibal” Pantoja (23-4) faces off against the 6th ranked Brandon “Raw Dawg” Royval (12-5). Flyweight seems to be the division that is always overlooked, due to it being the smallest division in the men’s side, but the fighters are always lightning fast and packed with tremendous skill. Pantoja is 2-2 over his last four fights, with the two losses coming to former flyweight champ Deiveson Figueiredo and 2nd ranked Askar Askarov. His last fight was super impressive as her beat Manel Kape in a battle that put him back into the top 5. Royval has been a rising fighter over the years with some great battles but lost his last fight to current champ Brandon Moreno. Both fighters are looking to get a chance to get their names with Figueiredo and Askarov for the next title shot. I believe that Pantoja will be too much for Royval and will prosper in the end.
The co-main for the fight card this weekend features a lightweight bout between the UFC legend Clay “The Carpenter” Guida (36-17) and a former silver medal Olympic wrestler from Denmark Mark “The Olympian” Madsen (10-0). Both fighters are high in age as Guida is 39 and Madsen is 36, but do not underestimate the potential for this fight being a banger. Guida has always been known to be apart of banger fights, like his one with Diego Sanchez. Guida is at the tail end of his career but is coming off an upset win over Michael Johnson. Madsen has yet to lose in mixed martial arts and in the UFC. His wrestling skills has let him dominate the game each fight. Guida has a great background is wrestling, but I think that Madsen will be too much for Guida.
Finally, the main event will feature two of the biggest savages in the middleweight division, as the 3rd ranked Jared “The Killa Gorilla” Cannonier (13-5) faces off against the 9th ranked Kelvin Gastelum (17-7). The original fight was supposed to be between Cannonier and Paulo Costa, but Costa had to pull out, leading to Gastelum taking his spot on short notice. Gastelum will be going into his second straight fight on short notice, as he did earlier this year against the number one contender Robert Whittaker. Gastelum’s record does not give him enough credit to casual fans, due to the talent he has had to face like Robert Whittaker, Darren Till, Jack Hermansson, and the champion Israel Adesanya. Cannonier last fought against Robert Whittaker, where he lost in a one-sided fight. Cannonier had to take some time off after the fight, due to a broken arm. He is one of the only fighters in UFC history to have wins in three different divisions, as he started at heavyweight, moved to light heavyweight, and finally in middleweight. Both fighters have a long line of great performances. A win will most likely put them in line behind Whittaker to take on Adesanya. I believe that the fight will go back and forth, but I will take Cannonier coming out on top. His mindset and skillset will take him over the top in the end.
This is a solid fight card for a fight night weekend in the UFC. All the fights have potential to be crazy, but these are the ones I will be keeping and eye on this weekend. Next week, fans will get a featherweight bout between the star veteran Edson Barboza and rising prospect Giga Chikadze. Tune in this weekend, August 21st, starting at 7 PM eastern standard time.