UFC on ESPN+ 26: Felder vs. Hooker Preview

After staying in the United States for the first four events of the year, UFC hits the international stage on Saturday. Heading to the Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, UFC on ESPN+ 26 will be headlined by Paul Felder and Dan Hooker. Being from New Zealand, Hooker will have home court advantage. Here’s a preview of the full card.

Click here to skip to the main card

Prelims (4:00 PM EST / 10:00 AM NZDT) (ESPN+)

Bout 1: Shana Dobson (3-3) vs. Priscila Cachoeira (8-3) (Flyweight)

Kicking off the preliminary card, two flyweights on losing streaks will battle. Shana Dobson, lost her last two fights, putting her at even as a pro. Cachoeira’s three losses as a pro are her three most recent fights.

Bout 2: Loma Lookboonmee (4-1) vs. Angela Hill (11-7) (Strawweight)

Last October, UFC’s first fighter from Thailand Loma Lookboonmee had a successful debut. The Tiger Muay Thai Gym fighter took Aleksandra Albu to a split decision. Now, Lookboonmee will face one of the UFC’s most active fighters, Angela Hill. Hill took this fight on short notice, filling in for Hannah Goldy. In her last fight, which was less than a month ago, Hill stopped Hannah Cifers with ground and pound in the second round.

Bout 3: Kai Kara-France (20-8) vs. Tyson Nam (18-10-1) (Flyweight)

Kai Kara-France’s two-year winning streak was broken in late 2019 after Brandon Moreno took him to a decision loss. Now, Kara-France looks to get back in the win column facing Tyson Nam. Nam debuted last September, losing in a scorecard battle against now-former-UFC talent Sergio Pettis. Fighting out of Auckland, Kara-France should be the first of many fighters on this card to be given a warm welcome.

Bout 4: Callan Potter (18-8) vs. Song Kenan (15-5) (Welterweight)

New Zealand isn’t the only Oceanic country represented on the card, proves Australia’s Callan Potter. Potter finds himself in the same position as his opponent Song Kenan, who is also fighting for his second win in a row. China’s Kenan last fought in August in Shenzhen, China, getting a decision victory over Derrick Krantz. Potter has fought more recently, getting a unanimous decision win against Maki Pitolo at UFC 243.

Bout 5: Jake Matthews (15-4) vs. Emil Weber Meek (9-4) (Welterweight)

Being absent from the UFC since 2018, Emil Weber Meek returns on the prelims to fight Australia’s Jake Matthews. Meek is on a two-fight losing streak which started after his first win in the UFC. Matthews is going into this fight winning most recently, having prevailed over Rostam Akman at UFC 243.

Bout 6: Jalin Turner (8-5) vs. Joshua Culibao (8-0) (Lightweight)

The final preliminary competition is between undefeated lightweight Joshua Culibao and Jalin Turner. Culibao has picked up eight wins on the regionals, this being his debut in the UFC. Turner has a 1-2 record in the UFC, being picked up through the 2018 season of Dana White’s Contender Series. His last fight was 10 months ago, not being favoured on scorecards against Matt Frevola.

Main Card (7:00 PM EST / 1:00 PM NZDT) (ESPN+)

 

Bout 7: Zubaira Tukhugov (18-4-1) vs. Kevin Aguilar (17-2) (Featherweight)

The main card will begin with two fighters looking to get back in the win column. Zubaira Tukhugov, who has been with the UFC since 2014, hasn’t won since 2015. His last two fights were a loss and more recently a draw against Lerone Murphy. He faces Kevin Aguilar, who had his nine-fight winning streak broken in June by Dan Ige.

Bout 8: Magomed Mustafaev (14-3) vs. Brad Riddell (7-1) (Lightweight)

After winning his UFC debut, New Zealand’s Brad Riddell returns to fight Magomed Mustafaev. Riddell’s win was over Jamie Mullarkey at UFC 243 in Australia, getting a unanimous decision win. Mustafaev is 3-1 in the UFC, most recently stopping Rafael Fiziev with punches in under two-minutes.

Bout 9: Marcos Rogerio de Lima (16-6-1) vs. Ben Sosoli (7-2) (Heavyweight)

The only heavyweight bout of the evening is between Marcos Rogerio de Lima and Ben Sosoli. Rogerio de Lima’s 5-4 UFC run dates back to 2014. He has been trading wins and losses for years, and now looks again to get a winning streak started with this fight. His most recent fight was an early 2019 loss to Stefan Struve. Sosoli’s last two fights have ended in a no contest, both due to unique situations. His Contender Series fight ended after an eye gouging in the first round. Then, his UFC debut against Greg Hardy ended in a no contest afterwards due to Greg Hardy using an inhaler in-between rounds, which is not allowed. Not counting the no contests, a win in this fight would bring the Australian fighter to five wins in a row.

Bout 10: Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-5) vs. Yan Xiaonan (11-1) (Strawweight)

Once being the top strawweight fighter, Karolina Kowalkiewicz is now attempting to snap a three-fight losing streak. She fights up-and-coming Yan Xiaonan, who has won all four of her UFC fights thus far. Kowalkiewicz most recently lost to Alexa Grasso, previously falling to Michelle Waterson and now-champion Jessica Andrade. Xiaonan last fought in June, going to the judges against Angela Hill.

Bout 11: Jimmy Crute (10-1) vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk (14-3) (Light Heavyweight)

The co-main event sees Australian light heavyweight Jimmy Crute try to come back from his first loss as a pro, fighting Michal Oleksiejczuk. Crute lost to Misha Cirkunov in September, getting caught in a Peruvian necktie in the first round to lose. Before then, Crute had two wins in the UFC after getting signed through the Dana White’s Contender Series show. Oleksiejczuk is also coming off of a loss, having lost to Ovince St. Preux in September via, you guessed it, von flue choke. The Polish fighter previously had two wins in the UFC, both being first round stoppages.

Bout 12: Paul Felder (17-4) vs. Dan Hooker (19-8) (Lightweight)

The main event of the fight night is ranked lightweights Paul Felder and Dan Hooker competing in a fight that is set to be five rounds. Hooker will have the crowd behind him as he is representing New Zealand.

Hooker won his last two, facing well-respected lightweights James Vick and Al Iaquinta. He was on a five-fight winning streak before, but that was broken after he took a long and drawn out beating by Edson Barboza.

Felder’s last win comes against Hooker’s last loss, that being Barboza in a split decision fight. Before then, Felder also beat Vick. His last loss was another split decision, failing to beat Mike Perry on the scorecards. Felder has been a frequent member of the UFC broadcast team in recent years, although he will not be a part of it on Saturday of course.

Both of these fighters are known for being violent, striking-based competitors. They’re both known for having impressive chins, being hard to put away even when they’re down. While both of them have been booked for five round fights before, neither of them have fought past the third round.

UFC will return next week from Norfolk, Virginia, USA, with UFC on ESPN+ 27. Headlining the card, Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo will fight to become the new UFC Flyweight Champion.

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