As much of a rarity it is to have two UFC events in one week, it’s even more odd to have one of those events on a Wednesday. However, in times like these, a show on a Wednesday doesn’t phase viewers who hear more outlandish headlines every hour.
Headlining a Wednesday fight night is light heavyweights Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira. Both competitors have been constant residents of the division’s rankings over the years, and have something to prove in a division where numerous fighters have a case for a title shot.
The event is set to take place without a crowd due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and will happen at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, the same place UFC 249 took place, in Jacksonville, Florida, USA. Here’s a look at the entire card.
Prelims (6:00PM EDT) (ESPN+ / First hour on UFC Fight Pass in Canada before switching to TSN 1, 3 & 4 at 7PM EDT)
Bout 1: Chase Sherman (14-6) vs. Ike Villanueva (16-9) (Heavyweight)
The card kicks off with a debut and a second chance. Making his return to the UFC, Chase Sherman will fight Ike Villanueva, who makes his promotional debut. Sherman had a seven-fight career in the UFC, going 2-5 before his departure. Going 3-0 in MMA since and 1-1-1 in bare knuckle fighting, he sees his return on this card.
His opponent, Villanueva, enters with a four-fight winning streak, all coming from Texas-based promotion Fury FC. He has previously competed in Bellator, getting a first-round win.
Bout 2: Hunter Azure (8-0) vs. Brian Kelleher (20-10) (Bantamweight)
Early in his career, Hunter Azure has remained perfect. That perfection will be tested on Wednesday when he faces the experienced Brian Kelleher. Azure was scouted through TV show Dana White’s Contender Series. He has won once since, taking now ex-UFC fighter Brad Katona to a decision. Kelleher, who is 4-3 in the UFC most recently stopped Ode Osbourne with a guillotine choke in the first round.
Bout 3: Gabriel Benitez (21-7) vs. Omar Morales (9-0) (Lightweight)
Similar to the previous fight, the Gabriel Benitez and Omar Morales clash sees experience face perfection. Benitez, who has fought in the UFC since 2014, has obtained a 5-3 record. He’s now matched up with Morales, who won his promotional debut in December against the “Maestro” Dong Hyun Ma.
Bout 4: Sijara Eubanks (4-4) vs. Sarah Moras (6-5) (Bantamweight)
The next match is a rare women’s bantamweight pairing. The matchup sees two fighters who are no stranger to the division in Sijara Eubanks and Sarah Moras. Eubanks is on a two-fight losing streak which took place in 2019. Moras just recently came off a losing streak, bouncing back with a win over Liana Jojua in September.
Bout 5: Michael Johnson (19-15) vs. Thiago Moises (12-4) (Lightweight)
Thiago Moises hasn’t had an amazing start since being picked up from Dana White’s Contender Series, but it’s not too late to turn the story around. 1-2 thus far in the UFC, Moises most recently lost via decision to Damir Ismagulov in August. He now gets booked against Michael Johnson, who is soon approaching his 10 year anniversary with the UFC, counting his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter. Johnson went 0-2 in 2019 and looks to get back in the win column. He had some trouble with finding a matchup amid COVID-19, with his foiled bookings being against Khama Worthy and Evan Dunham.
Bout 6: Andrei Arlovski (28-19) vs. Philipe Lins (14-3) (Heavyweight)
Finishing off the preliminary card is a matchup of longtime UFC fighter Andrei Arlovski versus Philipe Lins, who makes his UFC debut. Lins has been out of action for over a year, but his last win was a big one as it won him the 2018 PFL Season’s heavyweight division finals. Going 4-0 in the PFL season, all through finish victories, Lins made a name for himself in the promotion. Arlovski, who’s heading into his 18th fight of his current UFC stint, last lost in under 30 seconds to Jairzinho Rozenstruick via knockout. He’s been 1-3 and 1 no contest in his past five fights.
Main Card (9:00PM EDT) (ESPN+ / TSN 1,3 & 4)
Bout 7: Karl Roberson (9-2) vs. Marvin Vettori (14-3-1) (Middleweight)
The main card kicks off with a battle of two up-and-coming middleweights. Karl Roberson fights Marvin Vettori, with the winner extending their win streak to three straight. Vettori got his two wins in the second half of 2019 both via decision. Roberson lost in early 2019 to Glover Teixeira, bouncing back with two wins including a rear naked choke win against Roman Kopylov, who was undefeated at the time.
On Tuesday, Roberson missed the middleweight limit of 186 pounds, weighing in at 187.5.
Bout 8: Ray Borg (13-4) vs. Ricky Simon (15-3) (Bantamweight)
From early 2018 to early 2019, Ray Borg had bad luck with getting a fight booked. Many cancelled bouts on different dates, all for different reasons, left Borg not competing for nearly a year and a half. But, since his early 2019 return, Borg has gone on a 2-1 run. Most recently, Borg too Rogerio Bontorin to a decision, albeit missing weight for the flyweight bout. Back up to bantamweight again, Borg faces Ricky Simon, who is on a two-fight losing streak due to losses to Urijah Faber and Rob Font.
Bout 9: Drew Dober (22-9) vs. Alexander Hernandez (11-2) (Lightweight)
Alexander Hernandez and his outspoken attitude has made him an anti-hero in the MMA world. Most remember his fight against Donald Cerrone in 2019, where the “Cowboy” proved the prior trash talk false. Since then, Hernandez has bounced back with a win and will attempt to get another on Wednesday. His opponent is Drew Dober, who not only has over double the amount of fights but also a two-fight winning streak currently. Dober is one of the rare fighters to have already competed in 2020, stopping Nasrat Haqparast in the first round at UFC 246.
Bout 10: Ovince St. Preux (24-13) vs. Ben Rothwell (37-12) (Heavyweight)
No strangers to longtime viewers of MMA are both competitors in the co-main event. Moving up to heavyweight, Ovince St. Preux will face Ben Rothwell. St. Preux furthered his case for the nickname “Von Preux” in his last fight, stopping Michal Oleksiejczuk with a von flue choke. The win took St. Preux out of a two-fight losing streak. Rothwell, similarly, just got out of a slump in his last fight, where he finished Stefan Struve with strikes in the second round.
Bout 11: Anthony Smith (33-14) vs. Glover Teixeira (30-7) (Light Heavyweight)
The main event sees Anthony Smith return to face Glover Teixeira. Smith earned a title shot in early 2019 after three-straight finishes in the light heavyweight division. He lost handily to Jon Jones who put on a perfect performance apart from an illegal strike which forced a point deduction. Smith has since main evented a fight night, stopping Swedish fighter Alexander Gustafsson with a fourth-round rear naked choke.
This will be the fifth-straight five-round fight that Smith has been booked for (however, he only went past three rounds in two of those appearances).
Teixeira had a dominant run throughout 2019, going 3-0. After the aforementioned win over Karl Roberson, Teixeira went on to stop Ion Cutelaba and go to the scorecards with Nikita Krylov. At 40-years-old, Teixeira is still going strong in the division.
UFC’s next event comes days after this one, with Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris main eventing a card on Saturday. The event is the third of four shows announced to take place at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.