After Jon Jones defended his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship yet again, contenders Corey Anderson and Jan Blachowicz will try to impress and make themselves next in line for a shot in the main event of Saturday’s UFC Rio Rancho event. Of course a win doesn’t guarantee anything, especially since the last two opponents of Jones (Dominick Reyes and Thiago Santos) have made solid cases for a rematch. But with that said, a strong performance from either of these fighters could make them jump a few spots in the line. Live from the Santa Ana Star Center in New Mexico, USA, UFC on ESPN+ 25 features 13 fights in total.
Bout 1: Mark De La Rosa (11-3) vs. Raulian Paiva (18-3) (Flyweight)
The ESPN+ preliminary card opens at 5:00 PM EST (3:00 PM MST) with Mark De La Rosa and Raulian Paiva trying to snap their respective losing streaks. In a delayed Valentines Day couple’s event, Mark and Montana De La Rosa fight on the same card. While they have fought on the same card before, this is their first time since getting into the UFC. De La Rosa’s last fight was a one-sided loss to Kai Kara-France. Paiva has lost to Kara-France before as well. Paiva’s last fight ended early after a cut on his face ruled him unable to compete.
Bout 2: Macy Chiasson (5-1) vs. Shanna Young (7-2) (Bantamweight)
Attempting to come back from her first loss as a pro, Macy Chiasson will fight Shanna Young. Chiasson’s last fight was a huge upset on the Vegas betting lines, losing via unanimous decision to Lina Lansberg. Chiasson’s game is very clinch-heavy, taking the fight to the ground often as well. Before her loss, Chiasson earned all of her UFC wins via stoppage. Young’s misfortune earlier this month has turned into possibly something better for her. Young was pulled from her fight against Daiana Torquato on Invicta FC 39 earlier this month. Now, she steps in on short notice to face Chiasson, who was originally meant to fight Nicco Montano. Young made the move up to bantamweight for this fight, as she has mostly fought at flyweight in the past.
Bout 3: Casey Kenney (13-1-1) vs. Merab Dvalishvili (9-4) (Bantamweight)
Casey Kenney will attempt to continue his now multi-year winning streak when he fights Merab Dvalishvili on Saturday. Kenney made his UFC debut in 2019, defeating Ray Borg via decision. He then went on to beat Manny Bermudez at UFC 241, being the more dominant fighter in a ground-based battle. Dvalishvili last fought 9 months ago, defeating now-released Brad Katona via decision. He out-wrestled Katona for all three rounds of competition. If their most recent fights indicate anything, it’s that this matchup could be a good wrestling battle.
Bout 4: Devin Clark (10-4) vs. Dequan Townsend (21-10) (Light Heavyweight)
Both trying to come back from losses, Devin Clark and Dequan Townsend fight in the next preliminary fight. In his last fight, Clark got caught in a guillotine choke after eating a combination of punches. Townsend’s last fight was a unanimous decision loss to Bevon Lewis. Townsend is still looking for his first win since starting his UFC career. Clark was originally meant to face Gadzhimurad Antigulov, although he withdrew.
Bout 5: Scott Holtzman (13-3) vs. Jim Miller (31-13) (Lightweight)
UFC veteran Jim Miller is matched up against Scott “Hot Sauce” Holtzman in the next bout. While Holtzman’s last win was via doctor’s stoppage against “Maestro” Dong Hyun Ma, he had two dominant rounds before the stoppage. Miller fought on that same card, earning a first-minute guillotine choke win over fellow-long-tenured UFC fighter Clay Guida.
Bout 6: John Dodson (20-11) vs. Nathaniel Wood (16-3) (Bantamweight)
London, England prospect Nathaniel Wood has had a strong showing so far in his UFC career. Currently on an eight-fight winning streak, including three in the UFC, Wood earned all of the wins via stoppage. He will look to build on this streak on Saturday, getting put up against two-time Flyweight Championship challenger John Dodson. Dodson’s most prolific wins are over TJ Dillashaw, John Moraga and Pedro Munhoz. Dodson has fallen into a losing streak lately, losing to Petr Yan in his last fight. With that being said, the last fight Dodson fought was back in February of 2019.
Bout 7: Tim Means (29-11-1) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (10-1) (Welterweight)
In the featured spot of the preliminary card is Tim Means and Daniel Rodriguez. Both fighters are coming off of stoppage wins. Means last beat Thiago Alves, putting in a guillotine choke for the win after a succession of strikes. This fight is the UFC debut for Rodriguez, who impressed on Dana White’s Contender Series with a win over Rico Farrington in the summer. He got a second round stoppage win in December in a regional fight, and now he sees himself on the big stage.
Bout 8: Yancy Medeiros (15-6) vs. Lando Vannata (10-4-2) (Lightweight)
Staying on ESPN+ (TSN 5 in Canada), the main card begins at 8:00PM EST (6:00 MST) with Yancy Medeiros and Lando Vannata. Both fighters are coming off of losses. Medeiros hasn’t fought in over a year, losing to Gregor Gillespie in January of 2019. Prior to that, he lost a main event matchup to Donald Cerrone in 2018. Vannata went to the scorecards against Marc Diakiese in September, but did not prevail.
Bout 9: Ray Borg (12-4) vs. Rogerio Bontorin (16-1) (Flyweight)
Longtime UFC fighter Ray Borg will be put in the gatekeeper role on Saturday, facing Rogerio Bontorin. Brazil’s Bontorin won in 2018 on Dana White’s Contender Series, and has since continued to impress with two more wins in the UFC. Borg fought twice in 2019, returning to fighting after being absent since late 2017. He defeated Casey Kenney at bantamweight, but he missed weight for the fight. He then beat Gabriel Silva via decision. Borg missed weight for this fight, coming in at 128 pounds. As pointed out by MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn, Borg said in April that if he misses weight again he’d retire.
Bout 10: Brok Weaver (14-4) vs. Rodrigo Vargas (11-3) (Middleweight)
The long-awaited UFC debut of Brok Weaver happens this weekend, facing Rodrigo Vargas. Weaver originally meant to debut in October against Thomas Gifford, however he withdrew from that. He now faces Vargas. Weaver got into the UFC through a Dana White’s Contender Series fight. He stuck out on the show as a personality after his post-fight interview. Vargas lost his UFC debut in August, losing to Alex da Silva.
Bout 11: Montana De La Rosa (10-5) vs. Mara Romero Borella (12-6) (Flyweight)
After her significant other competes on the prelims, Montana De La Rosa fighters Mara Romero Borella on the main card. Both fighters are coming off of losses. De La Rosa lost to Andrea Lee via decision in mid-2019. Borella was stopped by punches from Lauren Murphy in the third round in August. They have both fought in the UFC since 2017.
Bout 12: Diego Sanchez (29-12) vs. Michel Pereira (23-10) (Welterweight(
The co-main event of the show is quite the matchup. Michel Pereira’s unique and sometimes self-punishing fight style has brought lots of eyes to him in his two fights in the UFC so far. He is known for having odd footwork, jumping off of the cage and doing backflips onto his opponents. His debut in May against Danny Roberts was dominant, stopping him in under two minutes. His second fight, which came against Tristan Connelly showed the negatives of his fight style. The high-tempo fight style matched with how much weight he cuts left him very fatigued as the fight went on, allowing Connelly to win on scorecards. Pereira came in a pound over the welterweight limit in his last fight. He made weight for this matchup.
Pereira fights Diego Sanchez in this bout. Sanchez, who has been with the UFC since the first season of The Ultimate Fighter in 2004, is trying to bounce back from a loss to Michael Chiesa. He attracted lots of attention that fight week for having one person in his corner instead of a full team. His last win was over Mickey Gall.
Bout 13: Corey Anderson (13-4) vs. Jan Blachowicz (25-8) (Light Heavyweight)
Both having great fights recently, Corey Anderson and Jan Blachowicz might see themselves a fight or so away from a title shot. But, that will change for one of them after they collide on Saturday.
For Anderson, an explosive win over rising light heavyweight star Johnny Walker put tons of eyes on him recently. Before that though, he had decision wins over notable fighters Patrick Cummins, Glover Teixeira and Ilir Latifi.
The last fight for Blachowicz was a main event battle against Jacare Souza. The two went five rounds, with Blachowicz earning a split decision victory. In his fight before, the Polish fighter stopped Luke Rockhold in the second minute with strikes.
Blachowicz and Anderson have fought before, with Anderson prevailing. That match was in 2015 at UFC 191. Heading into the fight, Anderson was a less-experienced 5-1 MMA pro.
UFC’s next event after Rio Rancho is at the Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand on February 22nd. In the main event, New Zealand’s Dan Hooker fights fellow ranked middleweight Paul Felder.