UFC on ESPN+ 50: Smith vs. Spann Preview

After a week off, UFC is back on Saturday night with a busy 14-fight card from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. The jam-packed evening is expected to be headlined by light heavyweights Ryan Spann and former title challenger Anthony Smith.

The event will be UFC’s 50th exclusive show for the online subscription service ESPN+. UFC has been on the service since early 2019 as part of a deal with ESPN.

Here’s a full preview of the event.

Click here to skip to a preview of the main card.

Preliminary Card (4:00PM EDT / 1:00PM PDT) (ESPN+ / TSN 2)

Bout 1: Emily Whitmire (4-4) vs. Hannah Goldy (5-2) (Flyweight)

Flyweights Emily Whitmire and Hannah Goldy will look to snap losing streaks in the opening bout of the card.

Whitmire has been out of the cage for the past year. Her last fight was in August 2020, where she was submitted within a round by Polyana Viana.

Goldy has yet to win in the UFC. She has lost decisions in her first two appearances, getting defeated by Miranda Granger and Diana Belbita.

Bout 2: Gustavo Lopez (12-6) vs. Alantengheili (14-8-1) (Bantamweight)

Looking to bounce back from his sole UFC loss, Alatengheili will face Gustavo Lopez on Saturday.

Alatengheili was given his first UFC loss last year in a unanimous decision against Casey Kenney. He picked up two victories in his rookie year with the promotion, defeating Danaa Batgerel and Ryan Benoit.

Lopez is also coming back from a loss, as he was stopped in March by Adrian Yanez.

Bout 3: Impa Kasanganay (9-1) vs. Carlston Harris (16-4) (Welterweight)

Coming back after a successful UFC debut earlier this year, UFC’s sole Guyanese fighter Carlston Harris will fight Impa Kasanganay.

Harris had a strong UFC debut in May, stopping Christian Aguilera with a first-round anaconda choke submission. The victory continued a win streak that he has been building on the regional scene since 2019.

Kasanganay earned a submission win in April, defeating Sasha Palatnikov with a second-round rear naked choke. The victory put him back to his winning ways after being on the receiving end of a flashy knockout from Joaquin Buckley last year.

Bout 4: Erin Blanchfield (6-1) vs. Sarah Alpar (9-5) (Flyweight)

Erin Blanchfield will make her UFC debut on the prelims when facing Sarah Alpar in a flyweight bout.

Blanchfield is joining the UFC roster after a strong seven-fight run on the regional scene. She has competed in notable promotions, previously fighting in Invicta FC and CFFC. She was first set to make her UFC debut in April against Norma Dumont, but that booking was thrown out after Dumont missed weight for the fight.

Alpar is returning a year after her first UFC appearance. She lost her promotional debut in September 2020, getting stopped in the final minute with strikes from Jessica-Rose Clark. She got the UFC call-up after winning a bout on the 2019 season of “Dana White’s Contender Series.”

Bout 5: Montel Jackson (10-2) vs. JP Buys (9-3) (Bantamweight)

Hunting for his first UFC victory, JP Buys is expected to face Montel Jackson.

Buys lost his UFC debut in March, getting stopped in the second round by Bruno Silva. That fight came just four months after he defeated Jacob Silva on “Dana White’s Contender Series” to earn a UFC contract.

Jackson will be making his seventh appearance since entering the UFC in 2018. He stopped newcomer Jesse Strader in March, finishing him in the second minute with strikes.

Jackson was first scheduled to meet Danaa Batgerel on Saturday’s card. He was given Buys after visa issues forced Batgerel off the show.

Bout 6: Rongzhu (17-4) vs. Brandon Jenkins (15-7) (Lightweight)

Hot off a recent flying knee knockout, Brandon Jenkins will make his UFC debut on Saturday night against Rongzhu.

Jenkins competed just last month, defeating Jacob Kilburn on a PFL card with a flashy first-round flying knee. The win moved his streak of victories to three consecutive.

Jenkins finds himself on the UFC roster as the promotion scrambled to get Rongzhu an opponent for this weekend. The previous opponent of Rongzhu, Dakota Bush, fell off the card earlier this week after testing positive for COVID-19.

Rongzhu lost his UFC debut in April to Rodrigo Vargas.

Bout 7: Pannie Kianzad (15-5) vs. Raquel Pennington (11-8) (Bantamweight)

The growing win streak at bantamweight for Pannie Kianzad will be tested when she faces veteran Raquel Pennington.

Kianzad has been on a strong run currently, having earned four wins since 2019. She fought once earlier this year, defeating veteran Alexis Davis via unanimous decision at UFC 263.

Pennington is appearing for the first time in a year. She served a six-month U.S. Anti-Doping Agency suspension recently, taking her out of action from November 2020 to May 2021.

Her last fight was a decision win against Marion Reneau last year.

Bout 8: Tafon Nchukwi (5-1) vs. Mike Rodriguez (11-6) (Light Heavyweight)

The extensive prelims will wrap up with a light heavyweight fight between Tafon Nchukwi and Mike Rodriguez.

Nchukwi faced his first pro loss in May, dropping a majority decision against Park Jun-yong. Before then he won his UFC debut against Jamie Pickett in late 2020.

Rodriguez will be fighting to avoid falling into a three-fight losing streak. He has been submitted in his two prior fights, losing to Ed Herman and Danilo Marques.

Main Card (7:00PM EDT / 4:00PM PDT) (ESPN+ / TSN 2)

Bout 9: Joaquin Buckley (12-4) vs. Antonio Arroyo (9-4) (Middleweight)

Antonio Arroyo will be in a potential must-win matchup to open the main card, facing Joaquin Buckley at middleweight.

Arroyo has fought infrequently since joining the UFC roster. The 32-year-old has fought twice since 2019, losing fights to Andre Muniz and Deron Winn. A loss on Saturday would make him winless through three bouts.

Buckley suffered a stoppage loss early this year, taking a head kick from Alessio Di Chirico in January. He had been on the winning side of big wins before then, stopping Jordan Wright and Impa Kasanganay in late 2020.

Bout 10: Nate Maness (13-1) vs. Tony Gravely (21-6) (Bantamweight)

Bantamweight win streaks will be put on the line when Nate Maness and Tony Gravely collide.

Gravely and Maness were first set to meet back in April, although that fight was cancelled after Maness withdrew. Gravely remained on that card, defeating Anthony Birchak for his second consecutive UFC victory.

Maness had a strong rookie year in the UFC. After handing Johnny Munoz his first pro loss last year, he came back in November to submit Luke Sanders with a second-round rear naked choke.

Bout 11: Christos Giagos (19-8) vs. Arman Tsarukyan (16-2) (Lightweight)

Due to the amount of depth in the lightweight division, many of the great fighters at the weight class aren’t ranked or are low in the standings. In a clash of two rising 155-pound fighters, unranked Christos Giagos will meet 14th ranked Arman Tsarukyan on Saturday’s main card.

Giagos has been part of the UFC roster since 2018 and has a promotional record of four wins and two losses. He scored his first submission win in the promotion recently, catching Sean Soriano with a darce choke at UFC 262. The win was his second straight victory.

Tsarukyan has put together a solid record in the UFC as well. After losing his UFC debut in 2019 against the tough Islam Makhachev, Tsarukyan has gone on to win three straight. That includes a fight early this year, where he defeated Matt Frevola via unanimous decision.

Bout 12: Mandy Bohm (7-0) vs. Ariane Lipski (13-7) (Flyweight)

Undefeated flyweight Mandy Bohm will get her UFC debut high up on Saturday’s card, facing Ariane Lipski.

Bohm has competed since 2014 and has scored seven wins as a pro. She made the move to the UFC after defeating Griet Eeckhout on a Bellator event in October 2020. Her UFC debut has been changed around quite a bit. She was initially supposed to face Taila Santos but was given Lipski after Santos had visa issues.

Lipski will be looking to end her losing streak. The six-fight UFC vet has been finished in her past two appearances, losing to Antonina Shevchenko and Montana De La Rosa.

Bout 13: Ion Cutelaba (15-6-1) vs. Devin Clark (12-5) (Light Heavyweight)

Searching for his first win in nearly two years, light heavyweight Ion Cutelaba will fight Devin Clark on Saturday’s co-main event.

Cutelaba has gone winless in his last three, with two of those fights being losses. The majority of his 2020 was focused on a two-fight rivalry with Magomed Ankalaev, where he was stopped within a round in both instances.

Cutelaba’s most recent fight came against Dustin Jacoby in May, where they fought to a rare split draw.

Clark’s last appearance saw him get submitted in the first round round by Anthony Smith late last year. The bout was his first UFC main event, which he was placed in after scoring two wins earlier in the year.

Bout 14: Anthony Smith (35-16) vs. Ryan Spann (19-6) (Light Heavyweight)

Light heavyweights Anthony Smith and Ryan Spann are expected to appear in Saturday’s main event.

Smith has become a regular to main events in recent years, as seven of the veteran’s last 10 bouts have been in the main event. His most recent appearance, a victory in April over Jimmy Crute, was his first non-main event appearance since 2018.

That fight, a win for Smith, came in gruesome fashion due to a leg injury that Crute suffered in the first round. Five months before then, Smith scored a first-round submission against Devin Clark.

That win broke a two-fight losing streak that he had developed earlier in 2020.

The fight on Saturday night will be Spann’s first main event bout since joining the UFC roster in 2018. Spann has picked up five wins through six appearances in the promotion. While he took a loss roughly a year ago to Johnny Walker, he returned to the win column earlier this year with a second-minute stoppage win against Misha Cirkunov.

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