The UFC returns tonight after a rare weekend off, and it’s back with a bang
Two titles are on the line as Alexander Volkanovski takes on The Korean Zombie, along with the much-anticipated rematch between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling.
Not only that, but we get ready to bear witness to the next big thing in not just the welterweight division, but the UFC as a whole, Khamzat Chimaev.
Let’s take a look at the main event, as well as the rest of the main card …
Featherweight champion, no.3 pound-for-pound according to the UFC, former rugby player, our main event features one of the best in the business.
Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkanovski (pictured above) has won 10 on the bounce since he joined the UFC in 2016, winning the 145-pound belt three fights ago against perennial contender Max Holloway.
A rematch victory over ‘Blessed’ in his first defence was followed by an impressive win over Brian Ortega, in fact, so impressive has Volkanovski been, many are wondering who, if anyone, can dethrone the 33-year-old.
Meanwhile Chan Sung Jung, of course better known by his ring name The Korean Zombie, has had a mixed bag of a career in the UFC thus far.
Back in 2013 Zombie challenged then champion Jose Aldo for the title, but he’s only fought six times since losing that one.
Despite that, he remains ever popular, and he’s always guaranteed to provide entertainment.
There are no easy fights at this level, but it’s extremely hard to see where Volkanovski loses this fight barring a catastrophic mistake.
The 135-pound division has been in dire straits of late, and long gone are the days of TJ Dillishaw, Dominick Cruz and Cody Garbrandt battling for the belt.
And with former champion Henry Cejudo winning the prize then promptly retiring, the weight class needs a new star.
Enter Petr Yan, who after beating Jose Aldo to win the vacant title, took on tonight’s opponent Aljamain Sterling.
The fight of course ended in controversial fashion after Yan delivered a knee to the head of the grounded Sterling, which of course is illegal in MMA, meaning Sterling was awarded the title by DQ.
Despite the narrative surrounding the original fight, it perhaps wasn’t the walkover that’s been portrayed; but with that said, for someone with a wrestling background like Sterling, he was completely outclassed by known striker Yan in the grappling.
Yan went 7-for-7 on takedown attempts that night, while Sterling only managed 1 of his 17 attempts.
Given those statistics it’s difficult to see where the Jamaican-American wins this fight over the Russian, and we expect to see Yan deliver a late finish.
Despite the two title fights above this one on the card, it might be fair to say that most will be tuning in to UFC 273 to see Khamzet Chimaev.
We know he’s the real deal, the only question that remains is – real enough for champion Kamaru Usman?
His opponent Gilbert Burns, a former title challenger and current no.2-ranked 170 pounder, will be Khamzat’s toughest test to date.
With Usman set to take on Brit Leon Edwards for the title, a win here for Chimaev could set him up for a tilt of his own, though reports suggest he’s first set to fight Colby Covington should he get the victory here.
An incredible grappler with seemingly never-ending cardio, should you believe the rumours from those who’ve trained with him, Burns will have his work cut out.
This one will determine just how much excitement lies around the welterweight division going forward, and the hype will be set to go into overdrive if the Chechen-born Swede gets the win.
And we think he will. Chimaev by submission is 10/3.
Since entering the UFC Mackenzie Dern has racked up a 6-2 record, with four of those wins coming by way of submission.
An extremely skilled ground practitioner, the Jiu Jitsu black belt is coming off a loss to Marina Rodriguez here last time out in October of last year.
She’ll be looking to bounce back against ‘The Tiny Tornado’ Tecia Torres, who is currently ranked no.6 after winning three on the bounce.
Despite the nickname, most of Torres’ wins have come by decision due to a lack of knockout power.
It will be crucial for Torres to keep Dern at bay with her striking, otherwise, if she lets Dern get close and get a hold of her, it may be a long night.
Dern by submission (9/4) could be the bet.
The main card starts with possibly the tightest fight on a night full of favourites.
Pichel just pips Madsen in the odds in a matchup between two men with similar CV’s. Pichel perhaps has a longer fight record, but his Danish opponent is undefeated.
Despite that, this one should in theory go with the odds.