By Devin Hall
The UFC is back this weekend, July 22nd, with a banger card full of amazing fights. Last weekend fans had a card filled with prospects and lower tier names to the casual fan, but we got to see Islam Makhachev dominate Thiago Moises to another win and get into the top 5 of the lightweight division. The main event for this week feature two of the best bantamweights in the world with Cory Sandhagen and T.J. Dillashaw. The main card is loaded with bangers outside of the main event as well, so let us look into some of the top fights with some predictions.
The main card kicks off with a bantamweight bout between two fan favorites, Adrian Yanez (13-3) and Randy “The Zohan” Costa (6-1). The build-up for this fight has been unique compared to most fights, as both men have buddied up through social media and their interactions with fans on Twitter. Costa and Yanez are two of the most active fighters with fans on social media, helping build their fight up to be moved onto the main card. They have a small joke going on between the two as Yanez is a strong advocate for Dr. Pepper and Costa pushed for Reese’s, making a social media battle of Dr. Pepper v. Reese’s. Yanez is currently on a six-fight win streak, as five of the fights have came as the way of knockout/TKO. Costa is riding a two-fight win streak with both coming of knockout. Both guys are known for their great striking, so expect some fireworks in this fight. I really do not want to see anyone lose this fight, but if I had to make a pick, I would choose Yanez by split decision.
Next, the bantamweight continues it showcase for this weekend as the 14th ranked Kyler “The Matrix” Phillips (9-1) faces off against the Brazilian Raulian Paiva (20-3). Both fighters are rising prospects in the division, looking to get their name higher up the rankings for a title shot. Phillips was scheduled to fight against Raphael Assuncao, but he had to pull out due to injury. Phillips is coming off strong win against Song Yadong as he looks to grow his win streak to 5 to continue his rise up the rankings. Paiva is coming into the fight with a short camp to prepare. Paiva is currently 2-2 in the UFC, but he looks to win his third straight fight to get his name into the top 15 for bantamweight. I believe that Phillips is ahead of Paiva skills wise, so he will win by decision.
Leading the girl fights for this weekend, fans will be rewarded with an amazing bout in the women’s bantamweight as number three ranked Aspen Ladd (9-1) battles with 10th ranked Macy Chiasson (8-1). The women’s bantamweight has been dominated for years by Amanda Nunes, so both ladies will be looking for a shot to do the impossible and take down the queen. Ladd is coming of a knockout win over Yana Kunitskaya. Her strong showing here kept her at the top of the rankings after being handed her first loss ever against Germaine de Randamie. Ladd is a well-balanced fighter, but is known for her solid ground game, but she has her hands full with Chiasson. Chiasson is strong for her class and has a wide arsenal of strikes with her stand-up. Both fighters impress, but I believe that Ladd’s heart will help her pull off a decision win over Chiasson.
Lastly, our main event for this weekend is one that many fans have been waiting on for awhile as the second ranked bantamweight Cory Sandhagen (14-2) is the first opponent for former champion T.J. Dillashaw (16-4). Dillashaw is considered one of the best fighters to ever be in the UFC in the 135-pound division. He was hit with a year suspension after testing positive for EPO. He was the champion in 2019, but had to relinquish the belt due to the positive belt. With the absence of Dillashaw, the division has seen the rise of some stars including Sandhagen. Sandhagen has ran off some impressive wins with knockouts over Marlon Moraes and Frankie Edgar, as his Edgar knockout is one of the best knockouts ever with a flying knee beautifully executed. Sandhagen is a taller, lanky type fighter as Dillashaw is a major powerhouse with tremendous heart. Both fighters will be looking for a knockout, but I expect for Dillashaw to come back with a bang. Sandhagen could very well come out with the win, but T.J. is too skilled.
This weekend will bring in so many fights that will satisfy the casual fan. Many fights have the potential to have a cray knockout or a beautiful performance by some of the best talent in the UFC. Next week we get another fight night as Uriah Hall takes on Sean Strickland in a middleweight bout for both mean to get into title contention, but first, be sure to catch the fights this weekend starting at 4 P.M. eastern time.