UFC 215 (September 9th)
has had two title fights on the main card, but neither are particularly big draws. Demetrious Johnson is one win away from breaking the all-time title-defense record, but he’s been so dominant at flyweight that it’s pretty much assumed he’ll defeat the young Ray Borg on Saturday. Earlier, Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko finally meet for the women’s bantamweight title, but with Ronda Rousey out of the equation, the division is struggling to drum up much interest.
Elsewhere on the card, former lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos is looking to revive his career in the welterweight division by taking on the sixth-ranked contender Neil Magny, while Ilir Latifi and Tyson Pedro will hopefully add a spark to the light-heavyweight division. Kicking off the main event is a fight between Jeremy Stephens and Gilbert Melendez, both fighters desperately in need of a win.
Here’s a look at what’s to come.
UFC 215 Undercard Odds
Neil Magny (+170) vs Rafael dos Anjos (-210)
After losing his lightweight title to Eddie Alvarez and then being beaten by the current number-one contender, Tony Ferguson, Rafael dos Anjos (26-9) decided to abandon the lightweight division and move up. He defeated Tarec Saffiedine in his welterweight debut, but his upcoming fight against Neil Magny (19-5) is his first true test at 170.
Magny is a dynamic fighter, a world-class grappler who can also stand and trade punches. He’s won four of his last five fights, most recently earning a close decision victory over Johny Hendricks.
After back-to-back losses against Alvarez and Ferguson, it became clear that dos Anjos was no longer competitive at lightweight. From what we’ve seen of him at welterweight, the 32-year-old is a lot more comfortable. His fast-paced, high-pressing style is extremely demanding, and the cuts to make lightweight just became too much for the aging Brazilian.
Magny has a huge size and reach advantage over dos Anjos, but given their fighting styles, that may not have a huge impact on the fight. Dos Anjos is a master at closing the distance, and he’ll be stronger and more energetic than we’re used to seeing him at lightweight.
Pick: Rafael dos Anjos (-210)
Jeremy Stephens (-120) vs Gilbert Melendez (+110)
Both Jeremy Stephens (25-14) and Gilbert Melendez (22-6) are desperate for a win. Stephens has lost five of his last seven fights, while Melendez has lost four of his last five.
Neither fighter is in great form at the moment, but at least Stephens managed a win over former bantamweight champ Renan Barão last year. Melendez has lost his last three fights, during which he tested positive for a PED. At 35, it may be a little too late for Melendez to stage a comeback. Stephens, on the other hand, still has a few years left in him. It won’t be pretty, but Stephens will do just enough to take the win.
Pick: Jeremy Stephens (-120)