UFC 295: Light Heavyweight Division Circus; Hardworking Andrade

November 15, 2023
5 months

Madison Square Garden is a venue steeped in combat sports history. Whether it’s countless boxing fights or professional wrestling events, this building in New York City can be considered the ultimate destination for fighters. So, what will unfold in the Garden at UFC 295?

 

Procházka and Pereira Fight for Vacant Light Heavyweight Belt

The light heavyweight division in the UFC has been a messy affair for a long time now. Jon Jones’ involvement with the belt was an intriguing period for the championship as he was stripped of it multiple times. This isn’t the first time that the vacant championship has hung in the balance either. Back at UFC 282, Jan Błachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev fought to a draw, meaning neither man took the strap home. Jamahal Hill did win the belt back in January 2023 but had to vacate it just six months later as he suffered a severe injury.

This brings us up to speed in UFC 295 when the one-time division champ, Jiří Procházka, takes on former UFC middleweight champion Alex Pereira. The Czech fighter won the same title in his last fight at UFC 275 when he made Glover Teixeira tap out to a rear-naked choke. Yet, in the spirit of a light heavyweight circus, he also vacated the belt due to a serious injury setback. Dana White still values the fighter to put him straight back into the title picture after 16 months of inactivity.

The same period has seen Pereira be anything but inactive as he steps into his third fight of 2023 here. Sensing the opportunity to win silverware, he transitioned to the Light Heavyweight division after previously having success at middleweight. His debut fight at this weight saw him knock off Jan Błachowicz in a split decision win, which caused waves amongst the MMA news sites, effectively earning him this title shot.

 

Interim Heavyweight Title Bout: Pavlovich vs. Aspinall

With Jon Jones injured in the meantime, the UFC has decided to wheel out the interim heavyweight championship and, in theory, set up a future fight for the winner against Jones. Sergei Pavlovich is a dangerous heavyweight with a fascination for ending fights very efficiently. He might have lost his first UFC fight, but since then, he’s won the following six, all of which by stoppage with his powerful punches. Most recently, dispensing with Curtis Blaydes in April 2023.

Tom Aspinall is the fighting pride of Wigan, England. He’s delighted fight fans ever since joining the UFC in 2020 by winning ‘performance of the night’ in the majority of his bouts. The Englishman will have to stop his Russian counterpart from landing his vicious strikes to succeed at the Garden.

 

History-Making Fight for Andrade as She Fights Dern

MMA Breaking News! There’s another chance to watch Jessica Andrade! The Brazilian woman might be the hardest-working female in contemporary MMA as she embarks on her fifth fight of 2023 and 25th UFC appearance, becoming the first female to reach the UFC-25 club. Unfortunately for Andrade, her results have been below par of late, as she’s on a barren three-match losing streak.

Despite Andrade and Mackenzie Dern being in the UFC for an eternity now, the two fighters have never faced off before. Dern has had a stop-start UFC career but could elevate her stature in the strawweight division if she can piece together consecutive victories, having defeated Angela Hill earlier in the year.

This match could be a Brazilian jiu-jitsu masterclass. Andrade is not only Brazilian but a black belt holder in the discipline. Dern can do one better. Despite being born in Phoenix, Arizona, she is a 3rd-degree black belt practitioner in BJJ and even won World Jiu-Jitsu championships representing Brazil. The winner will become one of the top-ranked strawweights in the UFC, as the pair are ranked #5 and #7 going into the fight.

 

Saint-Denis Looks for Lightweight Ranking

Benoît Saint-Denis has an exceptional background story. Before becoming an MMA fighter, he served in the French military service, where he was deployed in various parts of West Africa combating terrorist groups. After leaving the army in 2019, he left France altogether as, at the time, the country prohibited MMA – having to fight on cards in Belgium, Switzerland, and even Bahrain. After impressing in Brave CF, the UFC signed him up in 2021.

After losing his debut, Saint-Denis impressed in the promotion and tasted victory twice in his homeland of France, as the UFC has now held multiple events in the country. His next opponent is his biggest challenge to date. Matt Frevola is the #14 ranked lightweight in the UFC, who is coming in hot on the back of three consecutive wins. If the Frenchman can beat the American, then he might enter the upper echelons of the divisional rankings and disrupt the French MMA news sites in the process.

 

Momentum in Women’s Strawweight Division

At present, Tabatha Ricci is the #10 strawweight. She has her position there come under direct fire as she fights Loopy Godinez, who is on the outside looking in of the top ten, as the #13 ranked fighter in the division. Baby Shark, as Ricci is affectionately known, has gone undefeated since returning to the strawweight division and has said she’s looking forward to fighting at UFC 295.

The Mexican fighter in this bout, Godinez, might not be as highly ranked but is arguably more exciting. She’s won multiple ‘performance of the night’ awards and won fights by stoppage, unlike her opponent, who has largely relied on decision victories. Another big win could see Godinez take Ricci’s spot in the top ten rankings.

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