These five underdogs could walk away with upset wins on Saturday night
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Junior Dos Santos over Stipe Miocic
Junior Dos Santos already beat Stipe Miocic once and could very well do it again on Saturday, this time with UFC gold on the line.
JDS is one of few heavyweights that can hang with an accomplished KO artist like Miocic on the feet, as he outlanded the Cleveland native in both total strikes (140 to 102) and significant strikes (123 to 89) the first time around. Dos Santos also did a phenomenal job of keeping the fight in his wheelhouse, fighting off 17 of Miocic’s 18 takedown attempts.
Defending that many takedowns against a strong wrestler like Miocic was nothing short of amazing, and doing it a second time will be even harder. But if JDS keeps this fight standing, it becomes a boxing match between two of the best strikers in the division. And anything is possible at that point, including a new champion at the end of the night.
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Jessica Andrade over Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Joanna Jedrzejczyk will face her toughest test yet in former bantamweight Jessica Andrade.
Andrade is a rare mixed of speed and power, as she has the ability to rock her opponents with one punch but also lands 6.8 strikes per minute. The mark is far more than the UFC average of 2.5 and even higher than Jedrzejczyk’s (6.45), who is known for her devastating volume.
Where Andrade will struggle here is with Jedrzejczyk’s size. She'll be 4.5 inches shorter than the champion and be at a 3.5-inch inch reach disadvantage, so she’ll need to close the distance over and over again to get close enough to do any damage.
But we’ve seen Andrade do that time and time again against bigger fighters at bantamweight and see even more success at strawweight.
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Jorge Masivdal over Demian Maia
Like Dos Santos, fifth-ranked welterweight Jorge Masvidal will need to keep this fight standing if he wants to walk away with the upset.
No doubt that Masvidal is a supremely talented fighter, particularly on the feet, as he lands 49 percent of his strikes thrown and nearly five strikes per minute -- both significantly higher than the UFC average.
But that didn’t matter for Carlos Condit, Matt Brown or any of the other talented strikers Maia has submitted over the last decade. Once the Brazilian gets his hands on you, the fight is hitting the canvas and you’re likely getting submitted. In fact, of his last four opponents, the only person not to get choked out was BJJ ace Gunnar Nelson, who landed just two significant strikes over three rounds.
Fortunately for Masvidal, he touts some pretty good takedown defense, fighting off 77 percent of all the attempts thrown his way. But again, Maia has been a completely different monster lately.
If Masvidal can use his reach advantage to keep Maia at a distance and fight like hell to prevent the Brazilian from pinning his back against the fence and grinding him to the ground, “Gamebred” could turn this fight into a one-sided striking affair.
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Yair Rodriguez over Frankie Edgar
So far, no one in the UFC has been able to figure out high-flying featherweight Yair Rodriguez. The Mexican fighter is extremely dynamic and his world-class athleticism allows him to do just about anything he wants inside the Octagon.
Many of his opponents have been simply overwhelmed at times because of Rodriguez’s sheer volume and pace.
However, if anyone is up for the challenge, it’s Frankie Edgar.
The well-rounded veteran is surely going to challenge Rodriguez in all facets of the game, and it remains to be seen just how much Pantera’s ground game has improved since he was on the Ultimate Fighter three years ago.
But if he shows the same level of improvement he has in every fight since joining the UFC, Edgar could be in for a long night.
Mark J. RebilasMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Dustin Poirier over Eddie Alvarez
Brawler Dustin Poirier can make a big jump in the 155-pound standings if he can upset former champion and second-ranked lightweight Eddie Alvarez on Saturday night.
Poirier striking has reached a new level since moving up to lightweight as he’s landed over 50 percent of his total strikes in all six of his fights in the division. He also has only been taken down once in that span, likely thanks to his ability to put pressure on his opponents early and finish then with his pinpoint striking.
That’s something that Alvarez struggled with immensely in his last fight, and if Poirier can capitalize on that weakness, he could leave with the upset win.