Robert Whittaker will get the chance to regain champion status on Saturday night, facing current UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya in a rematch. Their second meeting, which is two years in the making, is set to headline UFC 271 on Saturday night.
That bout is one of 14 scheduled to take place at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, USA. Here’s a preview of it all.
Early Prelims (6:00PM EST / 3:00PM PST) (UFC Fight Pass)
Bout 1: William Knight (11-2) vs. Maxim Grishin (31-9-2) (Heavyweight)
In a fight that wasn’t originally scheduled as a heavyweight bout but is now proceeding as one, William Knight and Maxim Grishin will compete in the first bout of the evening.
Knight and Grishin were first scheduled to meet at light heavyweight this weekend. However, after Knight came in an overwhelming 12 pounds over the 206-pound limit, the bout was moved up to heavyweight. In most cases, a weight miss that egregious would cause the bout to be canceled. However, that was not the case here.
Knight is currently on a two-fight winning streak from last year. He earned his first stoppage win for the promotion in August, stopping Fabio Cherant in the first round with strikes. He then returned in December to beat Alonzo Menifield via decision.
Grishin is fighting to bounce back from a decision loss he took against Dustin Jacoby roughly a year back.
Bout 2: Jeremiah Wells (9-2-1) vs. Blood Diamond (3-0) (Welterweight)
In the first of two debuts taking place on the prelims, City Kickboxing’s Blood Diamond will face Jeremiah Wells at welterweight.
Diamond is representing the same gym as headliner Israel Adesanya. He has a flawless pro record of three wins since turning pro in 2017.
Wells could be a tough test for Diamond, as he is coming off a strong UFC debut. He entered the promotion with a bang last year, earning a stoppage win against Warlley Alves in June.
Bout 3: Douglas Silva de Andrade (27-4) vs. Sergey Morozov (17-4) (Bantamweight)
Coming off his first UFC victory, Sergey Morozov will fight Douglas Silva de Andrade.
Morozov, a former M-1 Bantamweight Champion, earned his first UFC win last year. He defeated Khalid Taha in July, defeating him on scorecards. This put Morozov back into the win column after losing his UFC debut to undefeated prospect Umar Nurmagomedov.
Silva de Andrade had a quick win in his last outing, stopping Gaetano Pirrello in the first round with strikes in October. This was his first win since 2019.
Bout 4: Jacob Malkoun (5-1) vs. AJ Dobson (6-0) (Middleweight)
Undefeated middleweight AJ Dobson will get his first UFC bout on Saturday night when he faces Jacob Malkoun.
Dobson secured a UFC contract in September, earning a first-round submission win against Hashem Arkhagha on “Dana White’s Contender Series.” This victory added to a flawless record of six wins that he has developed since 2016.
Malkoun earned his first UFC victory last year, defeating Abdul Razak Alhassan on scorecards. His prior fight was an 18-second loss to Phil Hawes.
Bout 5: Ronnie Lawrence (7-1) vs. Mana Martinez (9-2) (Bantamweight)
Riding the momentum of successful UFC debuts, bantamweights Ronnie Lawrence and Mana Martinez will be matched on the prelims.
Lawrence scored a third-round stoppage win in his UFC debut, stopping Vince Cachero in February 2021. He was initially picked up by the UFC in 2020 after a win on the “Contender Series.”
Martinez got his first UFC debut in August, going three rounds against Guido Cannetti for a split decision win. His UFC career was after he became the Fury FC Bantamweight Champion in 2018 and defended the belt three times.
Preliminary Card (8:00PM EST / 5:00PM PST) (ESPN2 / TSN 5)
Bout 6: Carlos Ulberg (3-1) vs. Fabio Cherant (7-3) (Light Heavyweight)
Both on the hunt for that first UFC victory, Carlos Ulberg and Fabio Cherant will meet in the next fight.
Cherant, a former LFA Light Heavyweight Champion, has lost twice since joining the promotion last year. His first defeat was quick, as Alonzo Menifield submitted him in the second minute of a fight.
His other loss also came within a round, getting stopped by William Knight.
Ulberg lost his UFC debut last year, getting finished by Kennedy Nzechukwu in the second round to end a hectic battle. That fight was also his first pro loss. Like the aforementioned Blood Diamond and headlining Israel Adesanya, Ulberg is representing City Kickboxing.
Bout 7: Kyler Phillips (9-2) vs. Marcelo Rojo (16-7) (Bantamweight)
Bantamweights Kyler Phillips and Marcelo Rojo are set to fight in the next matchup.
Phillips took his first UFC loss last year, dropping a majority decision to Raulian Paiva. He had attained three wins in the promotion before then.
Rojo lost his UFC debut last year, getting finished by Charles Jourdain in March 2021. He has struggled to get another fight since then, with three different bookings falling through later that year.
Bout 8: Roxanne Modafferi (25-19) vs. Casey O’Neill (8-0) (Flyweight)
A legend of the sport will retire in the next match. Appearing for the last time in her storied career, Roxanne Modafferi will meet undefeated prospect Casey O’Neill.
Modafferi is recognized by many as a trailblazer in womens MMA. She has fought as a pro since 2003, competing way before UFC hosted fights between women. She made it into the UFC quite late into her career, joining the promotion in 2017 through Season 26 of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Modafferi has taken on tough challenges throughout her UFC run. Attaining four wins and seven losses during her time, she has gained a reputation for being listed as an underdog but producing better results than what odds would imply.
Modafferi took two losses last year, dropping bouts to rising names in the division, Viviane Araujo and Taila Santos.
O’Neill is yet another rapidly rising name at strawweight. She has won three fights since joining the UFC, with all of the performances coming via stoppage. She added to her undefeated record in October, defeating Antonina Shevchenko.
Bout 9: Andrei Arlovski (32-20) vs. Jared Vanderaa (12-6) (Heavyweight)
The prelims will wrap up with a heavyweight fight between Andrei Arlovski and Jared Vanderaa.
Arlovski has been quite successful in recent years, putting together four wins through five fights since the start of 2020. He stopped the upward momentum of Carlos Felipe in his last fight, defeating the high-volume striker in a decision.
Vanderaa will be fighting to even his UFC record. He took his second UFC loss in October, getting finished by undefeated heavyweight Alexandr Romanov.
Main Card (10:00PM EST / 7:00PM PST) (PPV)
Bout 10: Nasrat Haqparast (13-4) vs. Bobby Green (28-12-1) (Lightweight)
The main card is scheduled to kick off with a fight between Nasrat Haqparast and Bobby Green.
Green’s last fight was his first stoppage win since 2013. In that performance, he finished Al Iaquinta in the first round with strikes. This win put him back into the win column after suffering hard-fought losses against Thiago Moises and Rafael Fiziev.
Haqparast took a loss in his last fight, losing to Dan Hooker on scorecards. He was gaining momentum prior to then, ending the undefeated runs of two UFC newcomers in his prior appearances.
Bout 11: Alexander Hernandez (13-4) vs. Renato Moicano (15-4-1) (Lightweight)
Keeping in the lightweight division, Alexander Hernandez and Renato Moicano will go next. Both fighters are entering this bout following a big win last year.
Moicano scored a submission win in June, submitting Jai Herbert with a rear naked choke. This was only his second win in his last five appearances.
Similar to Moicano, Hernandez returned to the win column in his last fight. He had a quick victory against short-notice opponent Mike Breeden, finishing him in just over a minute with strikes.
Bout 12: Jared Cannonier (14-5) vs. Derek Brunson (23-7) (Middleweight)
In a fight between two of the higher-ranked middleweights, Jared Cannonier and Derek Brunson will compete next. Some believe that this fight has high stakes for determining who will challenge for a belt next. In Brunson’s case, he hopes this win can give him a title shot, and that he can retire after those two fights.
Brunson has been on an incredibly impressive run since 2019, putting together five consecutive wins. This includes two big wins from last year, defeating Kevin Holland and Darren Till in main event fights.
Bout 13: Derrick Lewis (26-8) vs. Tai Tuivasa (14-3) (Heavyweight)
Two rising names at heavyweight will serve as the final non-title fight of the card. In the co-main event, Derrick Lewis and Tai Tuivasa will fight.
Tuivasa has been on a roll for over a year now, earning four consecutive finish wins. This is quite the turnaround from 2018 to 2019, where he had lost three straight.
Tuivasa’s last win came against his biggest challenge yet, Augusto Sakai. He was able to cause a sudden stopped early in the second round, knocking him out with punches to end the bout.
Lewis lost a title fight last year, getting stopped by Ciryl Gane in an interim title championship belt. He returned from this later in the year, handing Chris Daukaus his first pro loss with a first-round finish loss.
Bout 14: Israel Adesanya (21-1) vs. Robert Whittaker (23-5) (UFC Middleweight Championship)
Israel Adesanya will meet a familiar foe in the main event of UFC 271. In an attempt to continue his incredibly dominant reign as UFC Middleweight Champion, Adesanya will meet Robert Whittaker for the second time.
Adesanya’s run as the champion started with a win against Whittaker in 2019. Then interim champ, Adesanya had a dominant performance that he was able to close out in the second round with strikes.
Success has only continued for Adesanya since then. He defended his belt twice in 2020, defeating Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa. And while he lost in a super-fight up at light heavyweight, he is now coming off a recent decisive five-round decision win over Marvin Vettori.
Whittaker has been working his way toward another title shot during this time. He kicked things off in 2020, where he went five rounds against Darren Till for a decision win. He then knocked off high-ranked contender Jared Cannonier with a decision victory.
Whittaker’s last win came in 2021 against Kelvin Gastelum. He was initially scheduled to have a greater challenge, a fight against former title challenger Paulo Costa, but he was given short-notice Gastelum in the end.
Whittaker can avenge the biggest loss of his career on Saturday night. But a victory for Adesanya can further continue a run that might already be considered by many as historic.