Value May be on Main Event Underdog in UFC’s Return to Atlantic City

March 26, 2024
3 weeks

Erin Blanchfield headlining at Boardwalk Hall is coming at the perfect part of her career. The New Jersey native is headlining the first fight card in Atlantic City in six years. For Blanchfield, the stakes couldn’t be much higher.

Blanchfield is facing off against Manon Fiorot in what promises to be a flyweight title eliminator. Blanchfield and Fiorot, the No. 2 and 3 ranked contenders, respectively, would be stuck otherwise if they didn’t choose to face each other. The flyweight division has been held up due to an injury to champion Alexa Grasso.

Grasso was hurt following her last title fight with Valentina Shevchenko, which ended in a draw. The UFC would like to see the rematch between Shevchenko and Grasso happen. So, Blanchfield enters this fight on a nine-match winning streak.

Blanchfield is an excellent wrestler and has controlled most of her opponents on the ground. However, Blanchfield couldn’t get her grappling going and looked rough against former title challenger Taila Santos last August. Fiorot, known for her powerful striking, is also known for a long winning streak.

Fiorot’s last four fights have shown she is a more than capable contender for the title. She beat former champion Rose Namajunas last time out and also beat three former title challengers: Katlyn Chookagian, Jennifer Maia, and Mayra Bueno Silva. The best MMA news sites show this fight is important for both women.

It’s hard not to want to back the American favorite in her home state. However, Blanchfield has never faced a striker like this before. If Blanchfield can’t wrestle, Fiorot could control this one late.

Bets to consider: Fiorot by decision, Over 4.5 rounds

Luque Hopes to Hold Off Surging Buckley

Joaquin Buckley is one of the most spectacular knockout artists in UFC history. He also has ended up on many of his opponent’s highlight reels for getting clipped. Vicente Luque was originally supposed to fight Sean Brady, but he pulled out due to an injury.

Luque snapped a two-fight losing skid by beating Rafael dos Anjos via decision in his last fight. When Luque is on his game, he is a spectacular fighter to watch. Luque, born in New Jersey, has 11 knockouts and eight submissions to his record. 

It’s possible that Luque, 32, may be slowing down. However, it seems unlikely that Luque would be caught by Buckley, who has yet to beat top-level competition.

Bets to consider: Under 2.5 rounds, Luque by submission, Luque by finish

What Does Weidman Have Left?

The fact that former UFC middleweight Chris Weidman returned from a horrifying leg injury after 18 months off to fight Brad Tavares last October is incredible. Weidman survived an uncomfortable number of leg kicks to his injured leg in a decision loss to Tavares.

Weidman has lost four of his past five fights, including three by knockout. It has been nine years since Weidman was involved in a title fight. Weidman will have his hands full with veteran fighter Bruno Silva.

Silva has also lost four of his last five fights. However, Silva suffered the same type of pain Weidman had to get back in the octagon. This one should be ugly and hopefully over quickly.

Bets to consider: Under 1.5 rounds, Silva by KO/TKO/DQ

Dumas Happy to Get Back in the Mix

Sedriques Dumas had a rough fight camp. Training-wise, everything went fine, but Dumas found himself in trouble with the law and was charged with battery. Dumas has won two straight fights since losing his UFC debut by submission to Josh Fremd.

Nursulton Ruziboev will be looking to turn Dumas away again. Ruziboev has an amazing amount of experience for being 30 years old. He has fought 44 times professionally. During his UFC debut, Ruziboev knocked out Brunno Ferreira.

This should be a wild fight where both men will go for a finish. Dumas won’t have the discipline to stick for Ruziboev, who should pick up another KO victory.

Bets to consider: Under 1.5 rounds, Ruziboev by KO

Algeo Tries to Keep up the Momentum

Bill Algeo has looked fantastic during his recent stretch of fights. Algeo has collected four wins out of his last fight. During his last fight with Alexander Hernandez, Algeo looked great in all facets of the game and was able to pick up a decision victory.

Kyle Nelson has also won his last two fights and is hoping to get out of a rut. Nelson’s last four fights all ended by decision. In those fights, Nelson has produced a 2-1-1 record. Before that stretch, Nelson had lost four of his last five fights, with three of those losses coming by finish.

This will be a fun fight and a contest where Nelson will feel the pressure to get a win. This fight should see the scorecards, but Algeo will walk away a winner.

Bets to consider: Algeo by decision, over 2.5 rounds

Chidi Needs to Get Back on Track

Chidi Njokuani hasn’t had much success recently. He has taken three straight losses and doesn’t look like the man who once reeled off four straight knockout victories. But the UFC may be giving him a break here with Rhys McKee. 

McKee is 0-3 in the UFC and hasn’t looked comfortable in the world’s biggest promotion, according to MMA breaking news. Njokuani will bounce back with a knockout victory here.

Here are a few quick picks for the rest of the fights on the card: 

  • Featherweight, Nate Landwehr (+180) vs. Jamall Emmers (-218)
  • Women’s strawweight, Virna Jandiroba (+180) vs. Loopy Godinez (-215)
  • Featherweight, Julio Arce (-410) vs. Herbert Burns (+320)
  • Featherweight, Dennis Buzukja (-130) vs. Connor Matthews (+110)
  • Light heavyweight, Ibo Aslan (-125) vs Anton Turkalj (+105)
  • Women’s flyweight, Victoria Dudakova (+130) vs. Melissa Gatto (-155)
  • Middleweight, Andre Petroski (+170) vs. Jacob Malkoun (-205)
  • Bantamweight, Angel Pacheco (+280) vs. Caolan Loughran (-355)

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By Dean McHugh.