UFC on ESPN+ 55: Holloway vs. Rodriguez Preview

Former UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway will attempt to continue his campaign towards another title fight Saturday when facing fellow ranked fighter Yair Rodriguez in a five-round main event bout. Their fight headlines a “Fight Night” card that will take place from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

Here’s a preview of the show.

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

Preliminary Card (1:00PM EST / 10:00PM PST) (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass Canada)

Bout 1: Kennedy Nzechukwu (9-1) vs. Jung Da-un (14-2-1) (Light Heavyweight)

Rising light heavyweights Kennedy Nzechukwu and Jung Da-un will kick off the card.

Jung has yet to lose since joining the UFC roster in 2019. He scored his third win for the promotion in April, fighting to a unanimous decision victory over William Knight.

Nzechukwu has won three consecutive UFC bouts. He has scored two finish victories this year, defeating Carlos Ulberg and Danilo Marques in recent months.

Bout 2: Marc Diakiese (14-4) vs. Rafael Alves (19-10) (Lightweight)

Searching for his first UFC win, former interim Titan FC Lightweight Champion Rafael Alves will fight Marc Diakiese.

Alves lost his UFC debut in May, although it was against a tough opponent in Damir Ismagulov. He joined the promotion last year after a submission win on TV show “Dana White’s Contender Series.”

Diakiese last fought a year ago, losing a unanimous decision to Rafael Fiziev. That result snapped a two-fight winning streak for him.

Bout 3: Cortney Casey (9-9) vs. Liana Jojua (8-4) (Flyweight)

Flyweight veteran Cortney Casey will meet Liana Jojua as part of Saturday’s prelims.

Casey has been unsuccessful in her past two fights, getting beat by Gillian Robertson and JJ Aldrich.

Jojua suffered a doctor stoppage loss in her last fight, losing to promotional newcomer Miranda Maverick last year.

Jojua missed weight for the fight on Friday, coming in two-and-a-half pounds over the non-championship limit for flyweight.

Bout 4: Sean Woodson (8-1) vs. Collin Anglin (8-2) (Featherweight)

Fighting for his first UFC victory, Collin Anglin has been paired against Sean Woodson for Saturday.

Anglin lost his UFC debut just four months back, suffering a second-round stoppage against Melsik Baghdasaryan. He had joined the promotion roughly a year before then, beating Muhammadjon Naimov on “Dana White’s Contender Series” for a UFC contract.

Saturday’s bout will be Woodson’s fourth UFC appearance. He bounced back from his sole pro loss in June, earning a split decision win over Youssef Zalal.

Bout 5: Cynthia Calvillo (9-3-1) vs. Andrea Lee (12-5) (Flyweight)

In a clash of flyweights, Cynthia Calvillo and Andrea Lee will meet on the prelims.

A win this weekend is important for Calvillo, as she will be fighting to avoid slipping into a three-fight losing streak. Her previous losses have come against big names at the weight class in Katlyn Chookagian and Jessica Andrade.

Lee picked up a necessary win in her last outing, breaking a three-fight losing streak with a submission win over Antonina Shevchenko.

Bout 6: Thiago Moises (15-5) vs. Joel Alvarez (18-2) (Lightweight)

Rising lightweight Joel Alvarez will meet Thiago Moises in the final bout of the prelims.

Moises headlined his first UFC bout earlier this year, facing Islam Makhachev in July. Moises lost in that fight, getting submitted in the fourth round via rear naked choke.

Moises was put in the headlining spot in July after putting together three consecutive wins between 2020 and early 2021.

Alvarez is currently on a climb up the lightweight division. While he lost his UFC debut in 2019, he has since scored three finish wins. His last bout was in October 2020, when he stopped Alexander Yakovlev with a first-round armbar.

Main Card (4:00PM EST / 1:00PM PST) (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass Canada)

Bout 7: Song Yadong (17-5-1) vs. Julio Arce (17-4) (Bantamweight)

A high-level pairing at bantamweight will open the main card, as Song Yadong and Julio Arce will fight.

Song has put together an impressive record since joining the promotion in 2017. He bounced back from his sole UFC loss in his last fight, taking a split decision victory over Casey Kenney in August.

Arce has flipped between winning and losing in his past five bouts. He can break that streak with a win this week, potentially going on a two-or-more fight winning streak for the first time since 2018. His last fight saw him score a finish, defeating Andre Ewell in the second round with strikes.

Bout 8: Miguel Baeza (10-1) vs. Khaos Williams (12-2) (Welterweight)

Miguel Baeza will attempt to come back from his first pro loss when facing Khaos Williams.

Baeza was handed his very first MMA loss in June, as Santiago Ponzinibbio defeated him via unanimous decision. Baeza had previously stacked up 10 pro wins, including three stoppages in the UFC.

Williams made an impact in the UFC last year, debuting in the promotion with back-to-back wins that lasted less than a minute. After taking a loss to Michel Pereira late in 2020, Williams has since returned and defeated Matthew Semelsberger in June.

Bout 9: Felicia Spencer (8-3) vs. Leah Letson (5-1) (Featherweight)

In UFC’s incredibly rare featherweight division, Leah Letson will make her return to the octagon to face Felicia Spencer on Saturday.

Letson joined the UFC roster all the way back in 2018 after competing on Season 28 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” After being eliminated in the semi-finals of the show, Letson won an exhibition bout over Julija Stoliarenko at the grand finals event for that season. Letson has been out of the cage since that late 2018 appearance, and will be looking for her second UFC win on Saturday.

Spencer will look to break a two-fight skid while spoiling the return of Letson. The former featherweight title challenger last fought in May, where Norma Dumont defeated her via split decision.

Bout 10: Ben Rothwell (39-13) vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (18-7-1) (Heavyweight)

In a battle of two heavyweight veterans, Ben Rothwell and Marcos Rogerio de Lima will compete in the co-main event.

Rothwell has been on the UFC roster for over a decade and has competed in 16 fights for the promotion. He picked up a submission win in his last showing, stopping short-notice opponent Chris Barnett in May with a guillotine choke.

Rogerio de Lima hasn’t spent as much time in the UFC as Rothwell, but still has a solid 12 fights for the promotion until his belt. He is also riding the momentum of a win, having defeated Maurice Greene on scorecards in May.

Bout 11: Max Holloway (22-6) vs. Yair Rodriguez (13-2) (Featherweight)

Former UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway will look to score another main event victory when facing Yair Rodriguez in the headlining bout of the card.

Holloway’s appearance on Saturday sees him attempt to get back into the title picture. He was in that scene for an extensive period of time previously, fighting in eight title fights from 2016 to 2020 between featherweight and lightweight.

Holloway’s last title fight was in July of last year, where Alexander Volkanovski beat him via split decision in a rematch bout.

Holloway kicked off his campaign towards another title reign early this year, putting together a stellar five-round striking performance against Calvin Kattar. The 25-minute fight resulted in Holloway winning via unanimous decision in the end.

A quite overshadowed storyline for Saturday’s card is the return of Rodriguez. The 29-year-old has been absent from competition for over two years, with his last fight being a unanimous decision win over Jeremy Stephens in October 2019.

Rodriguez is undoubtedly a big name at featherweight, having only lost once through 10 bouts in the promotion. There’s no doubt that a victory on Saturday would only further boost Rodriguez’s reputation in the weight class.

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