The UFC is hosting its very first card in Zagreb, Croatia this weekend and they have packed the card full of exciting fights.
With five of the 13 bouts taking place in the heavyweight division, the card is reminiscent of UFC 146, which also had five heavyweight bouts. On that night none of those fights went the distance as the fans were treated to exciting finish after finish on the main card. The Zagreb natives will be hoping for the same result this weekend.
In UFC Fight Night Zagreb: Predictions – Part 1, we looked at the first three fights on the main card and predicted a winner for each. Now we move to the last three fights on the card, which are all heavyweight bouts, on a card which at least carries more physical weight than UFC 200 but certainly not as much prominence.
Francis Ngannou vs Curtis Blaydes (Heavyweight)
In the second of four heavyweight bouts on the main card, Francis Ngannou (6-1) makes his second walk to the octagon when he faces off against UFC newcomer Curtis ‘Razor’ Blaydes (5-0). Ngannou made his debut in the UFC last December, knocking out Luis Henrigue Barbosa de Oliveira in the second round.
He will be looking to maintain his winning record and with three KOs and three submissions in six wins. He carries a very serious threat for any heavyweight. Blaydes himself has knocked out each and every opponent in his MMA career but this step up in competition on relatively short notice may be a step too far.
Derrick Lewis v. Gabriel Gonzaga (Heavyweight)
Gabriel Gonzaga (17-10), at 36, has been around for a long time and despite his most recent victory over Konstantin Erokhin has left his best days behind him losing three of his last four fights. While still capable of beating many fighters, Derrick Lewis (14-4, 1 n/c) may just prove to be too powerful for the ageing Brazilian.
That said, Lewis himself has lost on his two attempts in a step up in competition and Gonzaga certainly, at least on paper, provides that step up in competition. Lewis is coming off the back of two TKO victories in a row and will look to add Gonzaga’s name to that of his defeated opponents.
Ben Rothwell vs Junior Dos Santos (Heavyweight)
This is a main event with major title implications at heavyweight, at least for one party. Should Rothwell (36-9) beat former champion JDS (17-4) impressively, he would most likely be next in line to face the winner of Werdum and Miocic.
Some would argue that Cain Velasquez will be guaranteed the next shot at the belt but with his injuries becoming more frequent the UFC can’t rely on building a card around the former two-time champion. If Dos Santos comes out victorious, he might not get right back in the title picture but he would certainly only be maybe one or two wins away. One thing is for sure – both men will be looking to make a statement.
This is sure to be a great night of exciting fights. UFC Fight Night Zagreb kicks off at 12.30pm GMT on Sunday. The main card begins at 6pm GMT and should be a barnstormer.
Paul O’Dea, Pundit Arena