Last Saturday’s UFC fight card proved to be vastly underrated. The fireworks started from the first flight and continued all night long.
In the women’s strawweight division, Amanda Lemos put the MMA world on notice, dispatching Montserrat Ruiz with a knockout victory just 35 seconds into the first round.
In the opening bout of the main card, Billy Quarantillo outlasted Gabriel Benitez in an absolute war to earn a victory in the featherweight division and the $50,000 fight of the night bonus.
Mateusz Gamrot delivered an impressive performance, and improved to 19-1 in a stacked lightweight division, submitting UFC veteran Jeremy Stephens via Kamura in just over a minute.
Former UFC champion, Miesha Tate, impressed in her return to the octagon in the co-main event Saturday night against Marion Reanu. Tate used her wrestling effectively and finished Reanu with her ground and pound. Tate has the distinction of being the only woman to finish Reanu in her career.
In the main event, Islam Makhachev passed his first real test against Thiago Moises with flying colors. Makhachev maintained the distance with his striking. Once the fight went to the ground, Makhachev cruised to victory with his excellent wrestling.
This Saturday, July 24, Ultimate Fighting Championship fans turn their attention to the best non pay-per-view card to date, headlined by an intriguing matchup between former bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw and Cory Sandhagen.
Dillashaw, with a 17-4 record, was once known as one of the greatest bantamweights of all time. Dillashaw’s two most notable wins came against rival Cody Garbrandt in bantamweight title fights. Then, after failing to become a two- division champ losing to Henry Cejudo in January 2019 for the flyweight title, Dillashaw’s career hit a downturn. Later in 2019, disaster struck for Dillashaw when he tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug EPO and was suspended for two years. Erythropoietin (EPO) allows athletes to push harder for longer stretches of time due to increased oxygen levels. EPO is known in sports as being primarily used by cyclist. EPO was most notably used by Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis.
Dillashaw believes he’ll be just fine coming off the steroids, saying “if I thought I got somewhere because of PEDs, I wouldn’t be calling out Cory Sandhagen . I wouldn’t be asking for someone in the top five. I wouldn’t let it be known that I’m getting my belt back."
Dillashaw may have bitten off more than he can chew with this opponent. Sandhagen is one of the best knockout artists with 6 of his 14 wins coming in that fashion. Sandhagen is surging with back-to-back wins in highlight reel fashion after knocking out Marlon Moraes with a spinning wheel kick. Sandhagen came on the casual fans radar after knocking out UFC legend Frankie Edgar with a flying knee back in February.
The biggest question going into Saturday’s main event is whether or not Dillashaw can return to championship form or were Dillashaw's best years wasted due to suspension.
The co-main event pits Aspen Ladd against Macy Chiasson in the women’s bantamweight division. Ladd makes her return to the octagon for the first time since 2019, coming off a complete tear of her ACL and MCL during training prior to the pandemic. Ladd is one of the young bright stars in the UFC with a 9-1 record. Ladd has amassed 6 TKO victories. Her specialty is using her wrestling to bring the fight to the floor and being able to dominate with her ground and pound. The problem for Ladd will be that Chiasson is also good on the ground. Chiasson will have an considerable six inch reach advantage in the stand up. It would be beneficial for Chiasson to keep the fight standing to give her the best chance to win. We will see if Aspen Ladd's striking has improved during her long lay off.
Saturday’s card is full of notable names to UFC fans. Top contender Maycee Barber will look to get back in the win column after back-to-back losses. UFC veterans Darren Elkins and Mickey Gall also return to the octagon. The UFC once again takes over the primetime spot on the worldwide leader as the prelims begin at 4 p.m. and the main card continues at 7 p.m. on ESPN.