Looking Ahead: UFC 203 Preview

We as fans have been absolutely spoiled throughout these past few months with so many events put on by the UFC. We’ve had a card every weekend since UFC 202, and now we are heading into our fourth-straight weekend of fights.

The UFC is setting a new landmark in the process as they host their first ever event in Cleveland. Entitled UFC 203, the event has many interesting match ups. Whilst featuring the debut of former WWE Superstar CM Punk; Stipe Miocic is set to defend his newly-won heavyweight championship against Alistair Overeem.

With UFC 203 being our next stop and plenty of interesting fights, I decided to give a little bit of background info for five-fight main card on PPV and what a win could mean for all ten fighters competing.

Women’s Strawweight: Jessica Andrade (14-5 MMA, 4-3 UFC) vs. Joanne Calderwood (11-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC)

The PPV begins with a fun, and interesting women’s strawweight bout. Jessica Andrade has apparently found a new home for a weight class. After putting together a tough stint at 135 lbs., she made her strawweight debut at UFC 199 defeating Jessica Penne by TKO.

As for Calderwood, she has put together a very impressive MMA-record. Losing only once in April of ’15 to MAryna Moroz via armbar. Since that small setback, ‘JoJo’ has put together a nice two-fight win streak. Including her most recent TKO victory over Valerie Letourneau at UFC Fight Night 89 in June.

This is a very intriguing matchup for both fighters, and putting on an impressive performance for either one should move them one step closer to meeting Joanna Jedrzejczyk for her strawweight title in the near future.

Bantamweight: Urijah Faber (33-9 MMA, 9-5 UFC) vs. Jimmie Rivera (19-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC)

At 37 years of age Urjiah Faber has fought the best of the best and accomplished just about everything there is to accomplish for a mixed martial artist. Faber finds himself at a very rough and questionable spot late into his MMA career. MMA is a young mans game, and being 37 is not exactly young for any fighter. Recently losing a unanimous decision to current title holder Dominick Cruz at UFC 199, he is now 1-2 against the champ. It would be hard for Faber to rally for a fourth fight with Cruz, but crazier things have happened in MMA. It’s also possible Faber realizes he is done as a contender and wants to retire off a win or two. He has had a great career, losing to only some of the best; like Renan Barao, Dominick Cruz, Frankie Edgar, and Jose Aldo. Faber has a chance to prove doubters wrong this weekend by knocking off a young up-and-comer.

27 year old Jimmie Rivera made his UFC debut in July of ’15. Making quick work of Marcus Brimage by defeating him by TKO at 1:29 in the first round. He’s currently riding a three-fight win streak. Rivera has bounced around from promotion to promotion like WSOF and Bellator prior to finding his new home with the UFC. A former flyweight champion in KOTC, Rivera knows that his fight this weekend with MMA legend Urijah Faber is the biggest fight of his life. And with a stellar win, will skyrocket him into title contention.

Welterweight: CM Punk (0-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Mickey Gall (2-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC)

CM Punk (Phil Brooks) made his signing with the UFC official at UFC 181 all the way back in December of 2014 on the PPV portion of the card. Punk spent all of 2015 and so far 2016 training at Roufusport under the tutelage of Duke Roufus. We have seen Punk grow as a fighter through his show “The Evolution Of Punk”, but at 37 years of age it’s tough to see fast improvement in skills for a guy who spent over a decade in the grueling world of professional wrestling. He has dealt with many broken bones, concussions, and torn knees. Punk continues to say this is his dream only, and he wants to fulfill that dream. We’ll have to see Saturday what he is made of.

Mickey Gall earned his lottery ticket to the big leagues after he used his mic time on the show “Lookin’ For A Fight” to call out CM Punk. He begged and pleaded for the fight. He made his debut in February of this year, submitting Mike Jackson in under a minute after connecting with a big right hand. Gall is a young, fast, and ‘hungry’ fighter as he likes to say. We don’t know too much on him, other than that he is a very improving fighter at only 24 years old. And with a win this weekend, the sky will be the limit for Gall.

Light Heavyweight: Fabricio Werdum (20-6 MMA, 8-3 UFC) vs. Travis Browne (18-4-1 MMA, 9-4-1 UFC)

Fabricio Werdum is off the heels of a first-round knockout loss back in May at UFC 198. While we aren’t entirely sure how the fight would’ve played out, Werdum was mixing it up well. That is until he decided to carelessly bullrush Stipe Miocic which lead him to getting slept quickly. Losing his title at the 2:47 mark of the first round. Werdum is making a quick turnaround now, while taking a year off after winning the title in June of 2015. He has also already soundly beaten Travis Browne by a clear unanimous decision at UFC on Fox 11. It should be noted that Werdum probably had the urge to make a quick return due to his poor decision in his title loss. He wants to make a second statement on Browne and get right back into the title picture.

Travis Browne can probably best be known for some of his highlight reel wins and losses he has acquired, or that he is the boyfriend to Ronda Rousey. But once upon a time, Browne was also undefeated in MMA much like his significant other. Entering the UFC back in 2010 and earning a 13-fight unbeaten streak. Since his first loss to Antonio Silva, he rebounded, but then has suffered several sound defeats. Most recently to returning former champion Cain Velasquez at UFC 200 in July. Browne has a chance to even the score this weekend with Werdum while also getting himself back on track en-route to possible title contention.

Heavyweight: (c) Stipe Miocic (15-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) vs. Alistair Overeem (41-14 1NC MMA, 7-3 UFC)

Miocic entered the UFC in 2011 with an undefeated record of 6-0. Compiling three wins inside the UFC, his first setback came by TKO from Stefan Struve in 2012. Miocic quickly rebounded with three more wins, only to come up short in a “Fight of the Night” performance with Junior dos Santos. Afterwards, he earned two big TKO finishes over Mark Hunt and Andrei Arlovski, which lead him into the title fight with Fabricio Werdum at UFC 198. Miocic showed no signs of nerves or pressure either. Keeping his composure throughout the first few minutes resulted in him placing the perfect counter on a bull-rushing Fabricio Werdum en-route to the first round knockout finish. Miocic will have the opportunity this upcoming weekend to continue to silence his critics and earn his first successful title defense.

Alistair Overeem is one of the most decorated heavyweights in MMA history. Holding titles in K-1, Dream, and Strikeforce. As well as having notable wins over former champions Andrei Arlovski, Junior dos Santos, Mark Hunt, and Vitor Belfort. Signed in 2011, Overeem won his debut fight in the UFC by first-round TKO finish against Brock Lesnar. He was had thought to of been a bust of a signing, going 1-2 in his first three fights. He showed he was one of the best heavyweights in the world and is now on a four-fight win streak. His most recent win coming by a jumping front kick TKO finish in the second-round over Andrei Arlovski in May. Earning him the next title shot against Stipe Miocic. Overeem is put in the place of having the chance to add to his already incredible resume, by adding a UFC title to his collection.

Prelims

Women’s Bantamweight: Jessica Eye (11-5, 1 NC) vs. Bethe Correia (9-2)
Middleweight: Brad Tavares (13-4) vs. Caio Magalhaes (9-2)
Lightweight: Nik Lentz (28-7-2, 1 NC) vs. Michael McBride (8-1)
Flyweight: Ian McCall (13-5-1) vs. Ray Borg (9-2)
Welterweight: Yancy Medeiros (12-4, 1 NC) vs. Sean Spencer (12-5)
Middleweight: CB Dollaway (16-9) vs. Francimar Barroso (18-5)
Lightweight: Drew Dober (16-7, 1 NC) vs. Jason Gonzalez (10-2)
Lightweight: Damir Hadzovic (10-3) vs. Yusuke Kasuya (9-2-2)

UFC 203 takes place Saturday, September 10 from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. With the prelims starting at 3:15PT/6:15ET and the main card on PPV at 7PT/9ET.