Preview: UFC Fight Night Raleigh

Photo via Esther Lin- MMA Fighting

We have our second card of the year coming up on Saturday January 25th.  This free Fight Night card is headlined by a couple scary mofos. We got #3 Curtis Blaydes vs #4 Junior dos Santos. This could determine who’s next in line after Francis Ngannou to get a crack at Stipe Miocic’s Heavyweight title. I’ll break down the main card, give my picks and what could possibly happen after the night of fights. Here we go.

 

Odds via Oddshark (Picks in bold)

Light Heavyweight Bout: Jamahal Hill (-135) vs Darko Stosic 

  • Welcome to the UFC Jamahal Hill. Hill is 6-0-0 in his pro career and he faces Darko Stosic who is 13-3-0 in his pro career and 1-2-0 in his UFC career. I see the new-comer winning by decision.

Strawweight Bout: Hannah Cifers (+145) vs Angela Hill (-175)

  • Angela Hill, who’s favored in this fight, has been in the UFC for some time. She’s 10-7-0 with 12 of her pro fights coming in the UFC. Her opponent list consists of former champions Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas, who she lost to. Hannah Cifers, who has a professional record of 10-3-0 and 2-1-0 in the UFC, is an exciting prospect for the strawweight division. She put Maycee Barber to this test and eventually lost that fight. I see Cifers going on to win her 3rd straight, 2nd round TKO.

Flyweight Bout: #10 Jordan Espinosa (+200) vs #11 Alex Perez (-260)

 

  • A tie for the biggest favorite on this card. Alex Perez holds a 22-5-0 pro record while going 4-1-0 in the UFC with his only loss coming by Joseph Benavidez. He fought 3 times in 2018, but only fought once in 2019. We’ll see if he can shake off the ring rust when he faces #10 Jordan Espinosa. This will be Espinosa’s 3rd UFC fight as he holds a 1-1-0 UFC record and a 14-6-0 (1 NC). Perez has some power for a 125 pounder, and I see him utilizing that with a 1st round KO. 

 

Co-Main Event Welterweight Bout: #5 Rafael Dos Anjos (-260) vs Michael Chiesa (+260)

 

  • This is sure money. Michael Chiesa has a mammoth chance ahead of him to make some noise in this stacked 170 lb division. Chiesa is 16-4-0 as a pro and 9-4-0 in the UFC. One of the Ultimate Fighters greatest, Chiesa faces former champ Rafael Dos Anjos. RDA, a true UFC vet has a pro record of 29-12-0 and 18-10-0 in the UFC. He goes all the way back to 2008 when he KO’ed Jeremy Stephens. RDA has fallen off since he lost his belt to Philly’s own Underground King Eddie Alvarez. Since then, he’s 4-4-0, but faced really tough competition. Those losses include Tony Ferguson, Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards. All of those guys have competed for or will be competing for the 170 lb title. A win here would be huge for RDA, but it’s not going to happen. Chiesa via 2nd round submission. 

 

Main Event Heavyweight Bout: #3 Curtis Blaydes vs #4 Junior Dos Santos

 

  • My second underdog pick of the card. Curtis Blaydes, the former defensive end for De La Salle, owns a 12-2-0 (1 NC) and a 7-2-0 (1 NC) UFC record. Blaydes has fought the best of the best at HW. His two losses have come by Francis Ngannou, both being KO’s. Other than the two losses? Blaydes is perfect…as long as he’s not fighting Ngannou. He’s beaten the likings of Allistar Overeem, Mark Hunt and Aleksei Oleinik. He looks to win his 3rd straight as he faces UFC great and future Hall of Famer #4 ranked Junior Dos Santos. JDS has done it all in the UFC while rarely losing. He started his UFC career back in 2008 by winning 9 in a row. He eventually lost his HW title to Cain Velasquez. He faced them all. Stipe, Roy Nelson, Mirko Cro Cop…the list goes on and on. Another victim of Francis Ngannou, his last fight resulted in a loss via the KO. He looks to get back on track, and I believe he does. JDS wins via 1st round KO and is next in life after Francis Ngannou for the Heavyweight belt. 

 

There’s really only two huge outcomes that can come from this night of fights. The winner of the main event, who I believe will be Junior Dos Santos, will get the next title shot after Stipe Miocic fights Francis Ngannou. This really depends on what Daniel Cormier does. Is he retiring? Is he looking for the trilogy fight with Stipe then calling it a career? Does he want the trilogy with Jon Jones? Is Dana planning a super doper fight with Brock Lesnar? Whatever happens, I’d love to see Junior Dos Santos as champion again in 2020. 

For the RDA vs Chiesa fight, this is a huge opportunity for Maverick. He’s looked a lot better since making the jump from lightweight to welterweight. He’s facing a top 5 fighter, and with a win here, I believe he’ll crack the top 7. Who’d be next? I’d love to see a matchup with Nate Diaz or Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. 

UFC Fight Night takes place in Raleigh, North Carolina with the prelims starting at 5:00EST and the main card starting at 8:00PM EST. You can watch UFC Fight Night on ESPN+.

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