The best in UFC’s bantamweight and featherweight divisions are scheduled to compete at the promotion’s pay-per-view event on Saturday night. In the main event of UFC 273, 145-pound champ Alexander Volkanovski will face experienced challenger The Korean Zombie.
But before then, bantamweight champions Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan will have a title unification fight. Those are just two of the 12 bouts expected to take place at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, USA.
Here’s a preview of it all.
Early Prelims (6:00PM EDT) (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass)
Bout 1: Julio Arce (17-5) vs. Daniel Santos (10-1) (Bantamweight)
In the first of four UFC debuts on this card, Daniel Santos will face Julio Arce in a bantamweight bout.
Santos originally signed onto the UFC roster last year as a short-notice opponent for a fight. However, since the initial fight he was booked for fell through, he has yet to compete in the promotion. Now with a fight set for Saturday, Santos will attempt to keep a two-bout winning streak alive that he first developed in 2019.
Arce is fighting to return to the win column after suffering a finish loss against Song Yadong late last year.
Bout 2: Piera Rodriguez (7-0) vs. Kay Hansen (7-5) (Strawweight)
Former LFA Strawweight Champion Piera Rodriguez will make her UFC debut on Saturday night against Kay Hansen.
Rodriguez earned a UFC contract on the most recent season of “Dana White’s Contender Series,” defeating Valesca Machado via decision. Earlier that year she earned an LFA belt, stopping Svetlana Gotsyk in the fifth round of a title fight.
Hansen is returning to strawweight for this fight. She attempted a move up to flyweight in January but is going back down to the 116-pound limit after losing to Jasmine Jasudavicius. Hansen will be fighting to snap a two-bout losing streak.
Hansen missed weight for the fight on Friday, coming in two-and-a-half pounds over the strawweight limit.
Bout 3: Aleksei Oleinik (59-16-1) vs. Jared Vanderaa (12-7) (Heavyweight)
Veteran Aleksei Oleinik will finally compete on Saturday night.
Oleinik has struggled to find a fight in 2022. He was first booked to face Greg Hardy in January, although that booking was thrown out after Hardy suffered an injury. He was then scheduled to face Ilir Latifi in late March. However, an illness to Latifi stopped that bout from happening.
Latifi and Oleinik were then moved to this weekend’s card. But after Latifi withdrew again, Oleinik was given Jared Vanderaa.
Oleinik will be searching for his milestone 60th win as a pro. He has been looking for this victory since 2020 but has lost three consecutive bouts in that time. His last fight was a decision loss to Serghei Spivac in June 2021.
Preliminary Card (8:00PM EDT) (ESPN / TSN 5)
Bout 4: Mickey Gall (7-4) vs. Mike Malott (7-1-1) (Welterweight)
Mike Malott will get his first shot in the UFC cage next, facing Mickey Gall in a welterweight fight.
Malott had an incredibly quick win on the most recent season of “Dana White’s Contender Series,” submitting Shimon Smotritsky in just 39 seconds with a guillotine choke.
His previous fight, which marked his return to action, saw him hand prospect Solomon Renfro his first pro loss with a rear naked choke outcome.
Gall is fighting to get back into the win column after suffering a decision loss against Alex Morono in December 2021.
Bout 5: Aspen Ladd (9-2) vs. Raquel Pennington (13-8) (Bantamweight)
Both returning to bantamweight, Aspen Ladd and Raquel Pennington will meet in the next prelim.
Ladd’s last fight was a five-round decision loss against Norma Dumont in October 2021. This fight took place up at featherweight and was Ladd’s only appearance since late 2019.
Pennington’s last fight was also at 145-pounds, submitting short-notice opponent Macy Chiasson late last year. That win was Pennington’s third consecutive victory in the UFC.
Bout 6: Anthony Hernandez (8-2) vs. Josh Fremd (9-2) (Middleweight)
Appearing for the first time in over a year, Anthony Hernandez will face UFC newcomer Josh Fremd on Saturday night.
Hernandez’s last win was a massive upset, scoring a submission against then-undefeated Rodolfo Vieira in February 2021. He has struggled to find a fight since then, with numerous bouts throughout last year and this year falling through. He was originally scheduled to face Albert Duraev and Dricus Du Plessis before being matched for this fight.
Fremd will be making his first UFC appearance in this fight. He is joining the promotion after being scouted through web-series “Dana White’s Lookin’ For A Fight.” He has notably picked up four wins in promotion LFA.
Bout 7: Ian Garry (8-0) vs. Darian Weeks (5-1) (Welterweight)
The prelims are set to wrap up with a welterweight fight between prospects Ian Garry and Darian Weeks.
Garry made an impact in his UFC debut last year, stopping Jordan Williams in the first round of a fight. This kept his undefeated record alive, earning him his eighth victory. He previously saw success in Cage Warriors, where he became a welterweight champion.
Weeks is fighting to bounce back from his UFC debut. The prospect made his debut on short notice late last year, stepping in to fight Bryan Barberena. He went three rounds against the UFC vet, losing a unanimous decision in the end.
Main Card (10:00PM EDT) (PPV)
Bout 8: Vinc Pichel (14-2) vs. Mark Madsen (11-0) (Lightweight)
The pay-per-view portion of the card is scheduled to kick off with a fight between undefeated prospect Mark Madsen and veteran Vinc Pichel.
Madsen, a fighter with a flawless record of 11 wins, has scored three victories since joining the UFC roster in 2019. His last fight came in August 2021, where he scored a split decision win over Clay Guida.
While Pichel has fought roughly once a year since 2019, he has strung together a three-fight winning streak in that time. His last appearance was in August 2021, when he beat Austin Hubbard on scorecards.
Bout 9: Mackenzie Dern (11-2) vs. Tecia Torres (13-5) (Strawweight)
Ranked strawweights Mackenzie Dern and Tecia Torres are scheduled to meet on the main card.
Dern was on a strong run up the division’s ranks in recent years. She earned four wins from 2020 to 2021, with three of those victories coming via first-round armbar. On Saturday, she will be fighting to come back from a five-round decision loss that she took against Marina Rodriguez in October 2021.
Torres is currently on a three-fight winning streak. Her last fight was a victory over fellow veteran Angela Hill, defeating her via unanimous decision last year at UFC 265.
Bout 10: Gilbert Burns (20-4) vs. Khamzat Chimaev (10-0) (Welterweight)
The rise of Khamzat Chimaev will get another big test on Saturday night, as he will face former title challenger Gilbert Burns in a three-round fight.
Chimaev has run through UFC talent since joining the roster in 2020, earning him a reputation within the promotion. His most recent victory was in October 2021, which saw him stop Li Jingliang in the first round with a rear naked choke. Previous wins included a 17-second knockout and two other finishes.
Chimaev now has a big challenge ahead of him in Burns. The UFC vet challenged current welterweight champ Kamaru Usman last year, losing the title bout in the third round via stoppage. He has bounced back since then, defeating Stephen Thompson in July 2021.
Bout 11: Aljamain Sterling (20-3) vs. Petr Yan (16-1) (UFC Bantamweight Championship)
The long-awaited rematch between UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling and interim titleholder Petr Yan will take place on Saturday night.
Sterling first earned his belt in March 2021 with a win against Yan. While Yan was succeeding against Sterling during their fight, he disqualified himself in the fourth round by landing an illegal knee to the head.
This outcome put an end to Yan’s title run, which had just started a year before with a victory over Jose Aldo. On the flip side, it gave Sterling an anti-climactic beginning to a title reign after earning five consecutive wins from 2018 to 2020.
Due to the controversial outcome of that fight, UFC has been trying to book a rematch for months. After some wait, the fight is secured for this show.
Yan has become an interim titleholder since his last fight. He earned this secondary belt in October 2021, putting together a five-round performance against Cory Sandhagen for a decision win.
Bout 12: Alexander Volkanovski (23-1) vs. The Korean Zombie (17-6) (UFC Featherweight Championship)
UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski will attempt to defend his belt for the third time when he fights The Korean Zombie in the main event of Saturday’s card.
The original plan for Volkanovski was to face Max Holloway in a trilogy fight last month. However, plans changed after Holloway suffered an injury. Because of this, he was matched with Zombie for an April 9th UFC card instead.
Volkanovski earned his belt off Holloway in 2019. He then defended it for the first time a year later with another win against him. His last title fight came in September 2021, where he had a five-round war against Brian Ortega for a decision win.
Saturday will be Zombie’s second title fight since joining the UFC roster more than a decade ago. He previously fought Jose Aldo in 2013, getting stopped by the then-champ in the fourth round of their fight.
Zombie is getting the title fight after winning three of his last five bouts. He lost a five-round decision to rival Ortega in 2020, setting Ortega up for an aforementioned bout against Volkanovski. But after a main event win against Dan Ige last year, Zombie has found himself in a title position.
Many view Zombie as a large underdog going into this weekend. While a win for him might be hard to pull off, it would be a historic victory to end an already long title reign for Volkanovski.