UFC 211 is much bigger than the two title fights at the top of the card. Here are five fights flying under the radar headed into the star-studded event.
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Frankie Edgar vs. Yair Rodriguez
With championship fights in the main and co-main event and a welterweight No. 1 contender’s bout proceeding them, it’s easy to forget that UFC 211 is home to one of the best featherweight matchups of the year.
Second-ranked Frankie Edgar looks to inch closer to another shot at the 145-pound title when he battles featherweight phenom Yair Rodriguez on the UFC 211 main card. Edgar has been the model of consistency during his more than a decade-long UFC career, having lost to just three fighters total along the way.
Rodriguez is coming off a brutal win over BJ Penn and it would be very difficult not to grant him a title shot if he can get past Edgar. However, he’ll need every bit of his dynamic striking to accomplish such a feat.
Edgar vs. Rodriguez isn’t the main event, but given the history of both these fighters, it could steal the show.
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Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier
Fans are in for a treat on FX during the UFC 211 prelims as two of the best lightweights in the world throw down in the featured bout.
Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier are talented strikers but neither is afraid to bite down on his mouthpiece and sling leather in search of the knockout. That bodes well for fans on Fight Night, who will undoubtedly be watching a future lightweight title challenger.
Poirier has been one of the division’s most impressive fighters since jumping up from featherweight in 2015. He’s won five of his last six, finishing three of his opponents in the first round, and knows if he can add Alvarez to that list, he’ll be closer than ever to fighting for the belt.
Alvarez returns to the Octagon after losing his belt to Conor McGregor last November, but before that, had won three straight fights against top competition. He looks to prove his early UFC run was no fluke.
Chas Skelly vs. Jason Knight
Chas Skelly vs. Jason Knight is an exciting bout between two highly underrated prospects in the UFC’s lightweight division.
Skelly lost his debut to Mirsad Bektic, who is now a top 15 featherweight, but after that went on to win six of his next seven, including five by finish. “The Scrapper” has a scary ground game and is often underestimated in the stand-up.
His opponent, Knight, has quickly risen in the eyes of UFC brass and fans alike, as he’s already amassed two post-fight bonuses to go with three wins in the last 10 months. Knight is aggressive and brash in his stand-up but prefers to finish fights with his jiu-jitsu, which has helped him to 10 career submission wins.
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Gabriel Benitez vs. Enrique Barzola
The UFC Fight Pass prelims is home to a fun scrap between The Ultimate Fighter Latin America season 1 alum Gabriel Benitez and season 2 winner Enrique Barzola.
Barzola is fresh off a dominant victory against Chris Avila, where he landed seven takedowns, bringing his UFC career tally to 13 over three UFC bouts.
Benitez is 3-1 in his UFC career and is riding high after beating veteran Sam Sicilia. And while he prefers to stand and trade with opponents, he’s finished 10 of his wins by submission.
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Marco Polo Reyes vs. James Vick
Two extremely talented technical strikers kick off the FX prelims as Marco Polo Reyes looks for his fourth straight win against rising prospect James Vick.
Vick, fighting in his home state of Texas, has lost just once in seven UFC fights and continues to prove time and time again that he has some of the best boxing in the lightweight division.
Reyes has already racked up two knockouts to go with two post-fight bonuses in his first three UFC fights and already has a win over veteran Dong Hyun Kim.
The winner here positions themselves nicely to crack the lightweight top 15.