While UFC has held a show in Norfolk, Virginia, USA before, the east coast town will see a championship fight for the first time on Saturday. Headlining the ESPN+ fight night card, Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo will battle for the vacant UFC Flyweight Championship. From the Chartway Arena, here’s a preview of the whole show.
Preliminary Card (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass + TSN 2) (5:00PM EST)
Bout 1: Ismail Naurdiev (19-3) vs. Sean Brady (11-0) (Welterweight)
Welterweights will kick off the night, as Ismail Naurdiev will come back to face undefeated prospect Sean Brady. Naurdiev faced his first loss in the UFC back in July, however he bounced back last fall with a decision win over Siyar Bahadurzada. Brady made his UFC debut in October, getting a unanimous decision victory over Court McGee. He mostly fought in regional American promotion CFFC prior to starting his UFC career.
Bout 2: Aalon Cruz (8-2) vs. Spike Carlyle (8-1) (Featherweight)
The second fight of the evening will be a double UFC debut. Aalon Cruz was signed to the UFC through Dana White’s Contender series, catching Steven Nguyen with a flying knee in the third round. He has something to prove, but so does his opponent Spike Carlyle. The Californian fighter ended his four-fight winning streak on the regionals by being signed to a UFC contract. He took this fight on short notice, filling in for Steven Peterson.
Bout 3: TJ Brown (14-6) vs. Jordan Griffin (17-7) (Featherweight)
TJ Brown and Jordan Griffin are both fighters from Dana White’s Contender Series looking for a win. However, this is the UFC debut for Brown, and the third fight for Griffin. Griffin has been on the opposite end of a unanimous decision twice since entering the UFC. Brown got into the UFC by locking in an arm triangle choke in the third round against Dylan Lockard. On the regional scene, most of Brown’s wins come via stoppage.
Bout 4: Marcin Tybura (17-6) vs. Sergey Spivak (10-1) (Heavyweight)
Attempting to even his currently 4-5 run in the UFC, heavyweight Marcin Tybura will fight Sergey Spivak in the next heavyweight bout. Tybura is on a two-fight losing streak, getting finished by punches in both of those bouts. Spivak got his first UFC win in his last fight, catching Tai Tuivasa with an arm triangle choke for the win. Before then, he had his undefeated record broken by Walt Harris in under a minute via punches.
Bout 5: Brendan Allen (13-3) vs. Tom Breese (11-1) (Middleweight)
After passing his UFC debut with flying colours, Brendan Allen will be matched up against experienced promotional fighter Tom Breese. A rear naked choke in the second round made Allen successful in his UFC debut last October. That fight extended his current winning streak to five in a row. All of the other wins in that streak came from regional American promotion LFA. Breese has been with the UFC since 2015, currently with a 4-1 record in the promtoion. Breese last fought in 2018, as bad luck of matchups being pulled kept him inactive through 2019.
Bout 6: Gabriel Silva (8-1) vs. Kyler Phillips (6-1) (Bantamweight)
Gabriel Silva was unsuccessful in hsi UFC debut, but is given another change against Kyler Phillips on the prelims. Silva was given a hard entry into the promotion, facing Ray Borg in his first fight in. Phillips is making his first appearance on a UFC card. He may be remembered from season 27 of The Ultimate Fighter.
Bout 7: Luis Pena (7-2) vs. Steve Garcia Jr. (11-3) (Lightweight)
Finishing off the preliminary card, “Violent Bob Ross” Luis Pena will face Steve Garcia Jr. Pena had a two-fight win streak ended in October, being on the less-desirable side of a split decision. His opponent this time, Garcia Jr., is making his promotional debut. He got a win on Dana White’s Contender Series in August, however did not earn a contract from it. After another win on the regionals, Garcia Jr. secured a contract. Even if you didn’t watch the Contender Series, you might recognize Garcia Jr. from his seven fights in Bellator.
Main Card (ESPN+ / TSN 2) (8:00PM EST)
Bout 8: Grant Dawson (14-1) vs. Darrick Minner (24-10) (Featherweight)
The main card will kick off with the very experienced Darrick Minner finally seeing an appearance in the big-leagues of MMA. He has fought 34 times, never escaping the regional level. He is on a two-fight losing streak, although it doesn’t top the six-fight streak he had from 2014 to 2015. He is matched against Grant Dawson, who is 2-0 in the UFC. His win-streak is five-straight currently, including a second-round rear naked choke win on Dana White’s Contender Series that got him on this stage in the first place.
Bout 9: Megan Anderson (9-4) vs. Norma Dumont (4-0) (Featherweight)
The often neglected division of women’s featherweight gets two fights on this card, starting with Megan Anderson welcoming undefeated Norma Dumont to the UFC. Anderson is one of the, if not the most active female featherweight in the promotion, being 2-2 in the weight class since joining the big leagues. Dumont has fought at bantamweight in three of her four pro fights, never fighting at a 145-pound limit bout. Her last fight was in 2018, getting a decision win on a Shooto Brazil card.
Bout 10: Ion Cutelaba (15-4) vs. Magomed Ankalaev (12-1) (Light Heavyweight)
While Ion Cutelaba and Magomed Ankalaev aren’t ranked in the light heavyweight division, they are both experienced fighters in the UFC now. Cutelaba has a 4-3 UFC record, recently winning with elbows against Khalil Rountree. Ankalaev lost his UFC debut in 2018, but then turned around to win three in a row. Two of those wins came via stoppage, including his most recent, which came against Dalcha Lungiambula.
Bout 11: Felicia Spencer (7-1) vs. Zarah Fairn (6-3) (Featherweight)
The other women’s featherweight fight of the evening sees Canadian prospect Felicia Spencer face Zarah Fairn. Spencer’s last fight was a loss, going up against former UFC Featherweight Champion and current Bellator Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg. Fairn’s last fight was a loss to Megan Anderson. Before then, Fairn had a three-fight winning streak before going to the UFC.
Bout 12: Joseph Benavidez (28-5) vs. Deiveson Figueiredo (17-1) (Vacant UFC Flyweight Championship)
Put in the main event slot, Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo will fight to become the third UFC Flyweight Champion. Previous champion Henry Cejudo dropped the belt in late 2019, after defeating former champion Demetrious Johnson and defending it against T.J. Dillashaw.
Benavidez is on a three-fight winning streak currently. Before is split decision loss to Sergio Pettis in 2018, the American fighter held a six-fight streak of victories. Figueiredo has a 6-1 UFC record, entering the promotion in 2017. He suffered his first loss as a pro in 2019, not getting the scorecard not against Jussier Formiga.
On Friday, Figueiredo missed weight, coming in at 127.5 pounds. Due to this, he can not win the main event on Saturday. If he wins, the belt stays vacant. However, Benavidez is still able to win the belt provided he delivers on fight night.
A week after UFC on ESPN+ 27, two more championships will be put on the line at UFC 248. From the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, the main event of the pay-per-view card, Israel Adesanya will attempt to make the first defense of his UFC Middleweight Championship against Yoel Romero. In the co-main event, Weili Zhang will put her UFC Strawweight Championship on the line against Joanna Jedrzejczyk.