The UFC returns to Mexico City on Saturday night for an exciting card that pits lightweight stars Rafael Dos Anjos against Tony Ferguson in a main event fight that could see the winner challenge for the lightweight title next.
In the co-main event, fan favorite Diego Sanchez takes on newcomer Marcin Held while top-ranked featherweights Charles Oliveira and Ricardo Lamas also duke it out.
Let’s take a closer look at how these fights and the rest of the UFC Mexico main card might play out.
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Rafael Dos Anjos and Tony Ferguson are two of the best fighters the lightweight division has to offer and they’ll throw down Saturday with a shot at the title on the line. Both are fierce strikers with a combined 30 finishes under their belt, so fans should be in for a treat on Saturday night. Dos Anjos and Ferguson each excel at the art of hitting people while not getting hit, both defending over 68 percent of the strikes thrown their way. “El Cucuy”, however, is the much more active fighter, as he lands nearly five strikes per minute. If he can successfully use his six-inch reach advantage land at a distance against the smaller RDA — the same way he did against guys like Josh Thompson and Danny Castillo — he should be able to eke out a win. If RDA is able to close the distance and unload with big body shots and suffocating wrestling, Ferguson could suffer the same fate as talented strikers Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis when they faced Dos Anjos.
Predictions: Tony Ferguson by decision
UFC OG Diego Sanchez tries to bounce back from a tough loss in July when he faces Polish UFC newcomer Marcin Held in Mexico City. Held is just 24, but already has 22 professional wins under his belt, including 12 by submission, and is one fight removed from a title fight against Will Brooks in another promotion. Sanchez has long been considered one of the UFC’s best grapplers and will be eager to test the young buck’s skills on fight night. Hard for us to pick against the UFC veteran in this one.
Prediction: Diego Sanchez by decision
Two excellent grapplers square off when fourth-ranked lightweight Ricardo Lamas faces eighth-ranked Charles Oliveira in a bout that has Fight of the Night written all over it. Oliveira has eight submissions in his nine UFC wins, but make no mistake, “Do Bronx” can hold his own in the stand-up. Oliveira likes to overwhelm his opponent with strikes before changing levels and taking the fight to the ground, and when he gets it there, he’s always working for submissions. Lamas is an outstanding wrestler who has definitely improved his striking over the years, but he could face some problems with the constant pressure from Oliveira. Not only am I calling for the upset, but also Lamas’ first career submission loss.
Prediction: Charles Oliveira by second-round submission
Beneil Dariush vs. Rashid Magomedov
Hard-hitting Dagestani Rashid Magomedov brings his 12-fight win streak into a matchup with crafty lightweight Beneil Dariush. Dariush, who is coming off a first-round beat down of James Vick at UFC 199, has shown an uncanny ability to neutralize strikers by dragging the fight to the canvas and he’d be best served doing so against Magomedov, who lands 4.67 strikes per minute at a 51.9 percent clip. Magomedov has stuffed 82.4 percent of takedowns attempted against him in four UFC fights, though, and he can walk away with a win if he can keep this fight standing.
Prediction: Rashid Magomedov by decision
Anyone that’s watched Alexa Grasso work her way through the Invicta FC ranks en route to a perfect 8-0 record knew it was only a matter of time before the 23-year-old strawweight was throwing down with top talent in the UFC. So it’s only fitting that the Mexico native makes her UFC debut at UFC Fight Night in Mexico City against Heather Jo Clark. Clark is tough as nail and lands at a high rate, but she also gets hit a lot, absorbing 6.27 strikes per minute. Grasso has exceptional footwork and her striking gets better every time she fights, but it remains to be seen how she’ll handle the bright lights of the UFC while debuting in her home country.